Senator: Sexual harassment complaint 'indefinitely suspended'

Sep. 15—An influential Democratic state senator from Albuquerque accused of groping a female lobbyist and other inappropriate behavior says an investigation into a complaint lodged against him earlier this year has been closed with no disciplinary action against him.

In a letter provided Thursday to The New Mexican, Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto, who has served in the Legislature for nearly a decade, says the complaint was "exhaustively investigated and fully debated by the Investigative Subcommittee" of the Interim Legislative Ethics Committee.

"Last week my attorney was informed that the current matter before the ILEC regarding the complaint is indefinitely suspended, with no further action to be taken," he wrote.

He added, "statutory confidentiality remains in place; those provisions have not been waived. Accordingly, there will be no official announcement that there was no finding of probable cause, meaning the matter is closed."

But the controversy is far from over and is likely to become a campaign issue if Ivey-Soto seeks reelection.

Following Ivey-Soto's announcement, a coalition of advocacy organizations that have been calling for Senate leadership to strip Ivey-Soto of his committee assignments and leadership roles announced the launch of a new website:

"We do not accept the premise that this sham process was legitimate or the final arbiter of accountability," Oriana Sandoval, CEO of the Center for Civic Policy, said in a statement. "We will not back down until there is transparency and real reform — and until Ivey-Soto is properly held accountable for his actions."

Under the Legislature's anti-harassment policy, which makes much of the process confidential, Ivey-Soto faced reprimand, censure or expulsion.

After the end of the 30-day legislative session in February, lobbyist Marianna Anaya accused Ivey-Soto of sexually harassing her at a reception in Santa Fe in 2015 when she was a young staffer for then-U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, now governor of New Mexico. Anaya also accused Ivey-Soto, chairman of the powerful Senate Rules Committee, of deliberately stalling a high-profile voting rights bill she was advocating for during the 2022 session when she confronted him about the seven-year-old groping allegations.

After Anaya lodged her allegations and called on Ivey-Soto to resign, representatives from eight state advocacy organizations also called for his resignation or ouster, saying more women had come forward with other allegations they said demonstrated a pattern of abusive behavior.

In the letter, Ivey-Soto, who has denied the allegations against him, said he is committed "to working fairly with all people who would like to better our state, including those who have spoken out against me.

"It is also important for all of us to remember our humanity, including our flaws and our challenges," he wrote. "For example, a lot has been made of the volume with which I communicate with people. While I need to be sensitive to the preferences of others when speaking, it is also important for others to be aware that I suffer from a hearing malady which prevents me from always hearing the lower tones in the spectrum."

In a brief telephone interview, Ivey-Soto said he was "really sincere" about what he wrote in the letter and extending an olive branch.

"I'm really hopeful that people can find a way to work together for the betterment of our state," he said. "Keeping things agitated doesn't work on the problems that face the state. For me, that's why I serve and for me, that's what I'm interested in working on."

Ivey-Soto declined to release the letter provided to his attorney "in deference to the confidentiality rules" of the process.

"Without going into details of what it says, I will say the letter itself is a one-page letter and simply tells us that no further action will be taken on the case," he said.

This is a developing story. Stay tuned for updates.

Follow Daniel J. Chacón on Twitter @danieljchacon.

Follow Daniel J. Chacón on Twitter @danieljchacon.