State senator ends lieutenant governor bid over harassment claims | KOB 4
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State senator ends lieutenant governor bid over harassment claims

J.R. Oppenheim
December 04, 2017 10:10 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- Embroiled in criticism over decade-old harassment allegations, New Mexico state Sen. Michael Padilla announced Monday he will end his campaign to become lieutenant governor.

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Criticism against Padilla, a Democrat, grew louder over the past weeks over claims from 2007 that he harassed women while he worked for Albuquerque's 911 communications center. The Associated Press last month reported on the accusations, which claimed he made inappropriate comments and asked women for dates.

In the past, Padilla had denied the accusations.

"The topic of workplace harassment has a large spectrum of complicated, individual situations, and I do not want to be a distraction as we come together as New Mexicans to solve this unacceptable workplace issue," Padilla said in a statement released Monday.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, herself a candidate for governor, was among the first to call for Padilla to exit the race. It also brought New Mexico into the national conversation regarding sexual assault and harassment in the workplace.

“Senator Michael Padilla made the right decision for New Mexico by ending his candidacy for Lieutenant Governor today," Lujan Grisham said. 

The Padilla campaign statement said Padilla has not had any other allegations made against him since the 2007 claims. It acknowledged the claims that he created a "hostile work environment," but the statement does not directly address allegations of a sexual nature.

"I accept full responsibility for making too many changes too fast at the 911 communications center in Albuquerque in 2006, which made the work environment to stressful," he said in the statement. "If I had to do this again, I would have spent more time understanding the capabilities of the individuals, and used that information to develop a more cohesive implementation plan for all of the needed changes at the 911 communications center."

MORE: NM Democrats to require harassment prevention training for candidates

MORE: Eye on New Mexico - Sexual harassment

MORE: Federal, state lawmakers take aim at sexual harassment

After news about Padilla broke Monday, the Republican Party of New Mexico said Democrats should call for Padilla to resign his current position as state senator. Padilla is the Senate majority whip.

"Michael Padilla’s behavior has been known for a decade, but Democrats like Michelle Lujan Grisham have supported his past campaigns, attended his matanza, and helped elect him to a leadership position in the New Mexico Senate," party chairman Ryan Cangiolosi said. "If Padilla is unfit to run for Lieutenant Governor, why haven’t these Democrats called on him to step down from elected office before it was politically fashionable to do so?” 

Here is the full statement from the Padilla campaign:

This is the result of accusations made against him that he created a hostile work environment in 2006 when he was asked to improve the emergency services provided by the Albuquerque 911 communications center.

Padilla said, "I accept full responsibility for making too many changes too fast at the 911 communications center in Albuquerque in 2006, which made the work environment to stressful." Padilla went on to say "If I had to do this again, I would have spent more time understanding the capabilities of the individuals, and used that information to develop a more cohesive implementation plan for all of the needed changes at the 911 communications center."

Padilla has never had an accusation of this nature made against him since the issue occurred eleven years ago but understands the importance of eliminating workplace harassment and reducing unneeded workplace employee stress. Padilla said, "The topic of workplace harassment has a large spectrum of complicated, individual situations, and I do not want to be a distraction as we come together as New Mexicans to solve this unacceptable workplace issue."

New Mexico can be a champion in resolving workplace harassment. Padilla concluded by saying "New Mexico can be a leader in resolving workplace harassment of any kind, and I welcome the opportunity to help our state achieve this important goal."

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J.R. Oppenheim

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