Lawmaker says male colleague harassed her last session | KOB 4
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Lawmaker says male colleague harassed her last session

Chris Ramirez
November 29, 2017 08:25 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- A popular female legislator from Albuquerque sent a letter to state leaders detailing the serial harassment she endured from a male lawmaker. She says she has proof, thanks to web cameras in the Roundhouse.

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Rep. Sarah Maestas Barnes, R-Albuquerque, and Rep. Antonio "Moe" Maestas, D-Albuquerque disagreed about a bill during the last legislative session. That's when Sarah Maestas Barnes said he berated and demeaned her.

Sarah Maestas Barnes' letter to legislative leaders comes days after another lawmaker stated the New Mexico Legislature policy on harassment needed an update. Sarah Maestas Barnes weighed in with her own experiences.

The issue at hand transpired last February. Sarah Maestas Barnes pushed a bill that would have ensured child killers, no matter the child's age, would spend the rest of his or her life in prison. Moe Maestas disagreed with the merits of the bill.

"I think it's important to show respect toward other members," she said. "What happened to me was a clear disrespect and clear repeated harassing behavior that has occurred countless times."

Sarah Maestas Barnes wrote about the incident caught on cameras. After she finished speaking about the bill on the House floor, Rep. Moe Maestas walked over to her.  Rep. Sarah Maestas Barnes said he "verbally attacked me using profane and threatening language and violently slammed his fist down on my desk."

Sarah Maestas Barnes gave an interview to a local television reporter about the bill. The next day in a hearing Rep. Maestas chastised Rep. Sarah Maestas Barnes for doing the interview, accusing her of “sniveling” to a reporter.

Moments later, the Republicans on the committee walked out of the room upset by Rep. Moe Maestas comments. Sarah Maestas Barnes tried addressing it.

"I would respectfully ask, Madam Chair, that if such comments continue to be made, you would call those comments out of order instead of allowing those comments to take place," she told the committee.

"This is repeated behavior," Sarah Maestas Barnes said in a later interview. "This isn't an isolated incident or two isolated incidents. This is something that has occurred over the last three years I've been in office. I feel like I have been specifically targeted and unrightfully so. I've never done anything to provoke the other individual. I've never done anything to spark that kind of aggression."

KOB reached out to Moe Maestas for comment. He emailed this statement.

"I am very surprised by her letter since Sarah and I have had numerous interactions since last year’s special session. My debate style, as a 19-year trial attorney, is very passionate and hard-hitting but is never personal.

"I have known Sarah for 15 years and we have always been candid and honest with each other. The instances mentioned in the letter were each dealt with within 24 hours and I left those two meetings with Sarah thinking everything was resolved. It's unfortunate she hasn’t expressed these sentiments to anyone else, including me, until now."

Meanwhile, leaders in both the Senate and House sent a joint release vowing to overhaul and rewrite harassment and sexual harassment policies that govern elected officials and staff in the Roundhouse.

Credits

Chris Ramirez

Copyright 2017 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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