A fiery new ad from Republican gubernatorial nominee Ronchetti hits Democrat Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham over her sexual assault payments where she shelled out $150,000 to an ex-staffer who says she poured water over his crotch area and then groped his penis through his clothes.
The ad features news clips, including one report from CNN.
The CNN anchor said, “Tonight, New Mexico governor Michelle Lujan Grisham is battling a sexual misconduct allegation.”
An announcer reads, “The governor mocked the manhood of an openly gay staffer,” adding, “and then grabbed his crotch through his clothes.”
The ad then features the staffer, James Hallinan, in his own voice during an interview with KOAT 7 where he said, “I was pressured to not report it to law enforcement.”
An announcer adds, “The governor paid the staffer more than $150,000 to settle and forced him to agree to never talk about it again. Wouldn’t this get you fired?”
In 2017, former lieutenant governor candidate, state Sen. Michael Padilla, was accused of a decade-old sexual harassment charge. At the time, Lujan Grisham demanded Padilla drop out of the race for office. Padilla was just promoted to Democrat Senate Majority Whip.
She told the Associated Press, “My position on sexual harassment is clear: it is totally unacceptable and will not be tolerated by me or in my administration. Michael Padilla’s actions were wrong.” She continued, “There is no room for excuses and he should withdraw his candidacy for lieutenant governor.”
Lujan Grisham didn’t live up to her own standard, flatly claiming, “There is no room for excuses.” Her excuse for the $150,000 was that she was busy during the pandemic and didn’t have time to fight the claims.
She said at the time, “I was focused on the pandemic, and I’ll stand by that decision [to settle] every minute of every day.”
Previously, a man came forward in 2018 before the gubernatorial election accusing Lujan Grisham of groping him at a party, which led to the end of his relationship.
The man, Eddie Dehart, said of the 2005 groping incident, “In 2005, we have a party at my girlfriend’s house. It was an artisan party to showcase some art in Santa Fe and help the artists out to sell their products…During the game, it was Michelle’s shot. And she walked around the pool table and walked by me. When she walked by me she grabbed my crotch.” He said that Lujan Grisham exclaimed to his girlfriend that “you have a man here.”
“Michelle was asked to leave the party,” he said. “I didn’t do nothing [sic] to provoke it.”
Dehart said that Lujan Grisham’s conduct led to a rift with his girlfriend. “Michelle’s drunkenness and her touchy hands ended up breaking us up in the long run.”
Now that the groping is becoming an election issue for Lujan Grisham, widespread television ads exposing her groping could tilt the balance toward Ronchetti in November.