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Fajardo Demands Report On Legislative Agency Directors Response To Sexual Harassment Complaints

on December 6, 2017 - 9:24am
LEGISLATIVE News:
 
LOS LUNAS — Rep. Kelly Fajardo (R-Los Lunas) sent a letter Monday to the directors of the Legislative Counsel Service (LCS) and Legislative Education Study Committee (LESC) calling on them to disclose how their agencies handled three sexual harassment complaints brought to their attention since 2013, including one involving a sitting legislator.  
 
Fajardo sent the letter after she was made aware of the existence of the complaints following her letter to New Mexico legislative leaders Nov. 24. The complaints include a detailed allegation of sexual harassment against a sitting legislator that had been emailed to LCS Director Raúl Burciaga and LESC Director Rachel Gudgel in June 2016 by former LESC Deputy Director Ian Kleats.  
 
In her letter, Fajardo wrote, “As the Legislature’s “No Harassment” policy states, all complaints of harassment made to an agency director or chief clerk will be investigated “promptly, impartially, and discreetly.” In light of this assurance, I request a complete report from each of your offices on how all three of the sexual harassment complaints described in the 12/3/17 Albuquerque Journal article were handled when they were received.” 
 
Fajardo also asked the directors to explain how their agencies resolved the complaints, what determinations were reached, and what protective measures, if any, were taken to prevent future incidents.  
 
Fajardo made the following statement after sending her request to the agency directors: 
 
“Recently, there has been some confusion about whether the Legislature has received any sexual harassment complaints.
 
“However, the 12/3/17 Albuquerque Journal article states that the LCS was aware of at least two complaints against employees as well as another detailed, credible report of improper behavior by a member of the Legislature. Clearly, there has been a breakdown in the system, and I am troubled that complaints may have been filed but not pursued. I want a detailed accounting of how these complaints were handled so we can evaluate the weaknesses of our current process and make the appropriate changes.  
 
“We must have a system of due process that holds wrongdoers accountable as well as exonerates those wrongly accused. Right now, individuals have no faith that their complaints will be handled fairly. Without an objective process, we risk creating a ‘witch hunt’ environment where cases are aired in the court of public opinion. No one gains from that situation. 
 
“Strong policies and procedures will protect the rights of all parties and establish clear rules for everyone to follow, but we also need public officials that are willing to enforce these policies consistently. Establishing this system of due process is my ultimate goal.”

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