Transgender woman files ethics complaint against Lujan Grisham's office | KOB 4

Transgender woman files ethics complaint against Lujan Grisham's office Web Staff
December 14, 2017 10:12 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- A transgender woman who this week claimed discrimination against a New Mexico congresswoman's office wrote an apology letter to Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham's chief of staff shortly after she lost her internship post.


Lujan Grisham's office on Thursday provided KOB with a copy of the letter where Riley Del Rey thanked the Democratic congresswoman for the opportunity to work as an intern in 2015 and acknowledged she exhibited "unprofessional and unacceptable behavior."

The letter is dated March 24, 2015. Click here to read the letter.

"I sincerely thank you for the opportunity to intern in the office of Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham," Del Rey wrote. "The chance that you provided me was one of the great honors in my life as it allowed me to serve my Congressional district. I am thankful to the staff and Congresswoman Lujan Grisham who took the time and entrusted me with this internship and grateful to the CHCI [Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute] for opening the door to this great opportunity.

"I acknowledge that my behavior was unprofessional and unacceptable. I profusely apologize if I brought about shame, embarrassment, or worry to the office as it was never my intention. I respect the Congresswoman as well as all of the work that all of the staff complete on a daily basis to conscientiously create issues for the office. Once again, I am sorry."

Another former congressman, Rep. Mike Honda, also refuted claims Del Rey made saying he outed her as transgender, according to a report in the Albuquerque Journal. KOB has reached out to Honda and his representatives to confirm this information but has not heard back.

In an interview with KOB earlier this week, Riley Del Rey said she lost out on a "prestigious opportunity" to leave her home in New Mexico and serve an internship in Lujan Grisham's D.C. office in 2015. Del Rey got that job through the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute.

Two weeks into her internship, she was fired. Del Rey told KOB she has filed a complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics.

"I think I was outed by someone else on the Hill," she said. "You know, it's a very sexist community."

Del Rey claims a member of Lujan Grisham's staff fired her after the congresswoman heard something about her on the House floor.

"She went on the House floor to give a vote, and another member of Congress said, 'Hey, I met Riley' and he shared something personal about me with her."

Del Rey believes that's when the congresswoman learned she was transgender. She also claims Lujan Grisham's staff complained to her internship coordinator about her heels being too high and her hair being too curly.

However, the Albuquerque Journal reported on Tuesday Honda, D-Calif., disputes Del Rey's claims he revealed she is transgender to Lujan Grisham. 

Lujan Grisham has strongly denied these discrimination allegations, releasing a statement saying in part: "Our office takes the rights of the LGBTQ community very seriously and we are dumbfounded by any suggestion that we would discriminate against anyone for any reason."

To read the full statement, click here.

Del Rey said she went public with these allegations after Lujan Grisham encouraged a state Sen. Michael Padilla to drop out of our lieutenant governor's race because of sexual harassment accusations against him.

MORE: State senator ends lieutenant governor bid over harassment claims

What does Del Rey want from the congresswoman?

"Do the right thing and meet with myself and members of the trans community to learn how we can improve the workplace so this doesn't happen again because it really did happen," she said.

According to the Santa Fe New Mexican, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute wouldn't comment on the reason Del Rey never finished the internship. Lujan Grisham said she and her office had a positive relationship with Del Rey after she was let go.

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