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New Mexico governor’s sexual harassment settlement more than twice as big as previously known

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s campaign paid her sexual assault accuser $150,000 in settlement payments — more than double what her campaign acknowledged earlier this year.

Reports in June said the Democrat’s campaign paid at least $62,500 to James Hallinan, a 2018 campaign spokesman who claimed the governor once dropped water in his lap and then grabbed his crotch at the home of state Rep. Deborah Armstrong during a meeting months before that year’s election.

NEW MEXICO’S DEM GOVERNOR DEFENDS $62,500 SETTLEMENT OF CROTCH-GRAB CASE: ‘I WAS FOCUSED ON THE PANDEMIC’

The governor, who has denied the allegations, said at the time that she decided to settle with Hallinan because she wanted to focus on the coronavirus pandemic.

“I was focused on the pandemic, and I’ll stand by that decision [to settle] every minute of every day,” she told reporters on June 11.

But according to a mandatory campaign finance report filed Monday, Grisham’s payout was much higher than expected. Over the past six months, her campaign paid an additional $87,500, bringing the total to $150,000.

New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver’s office has said the settlement payments are allowed because they relate to an employment dispute with a former campaign staffer, the Albuquerque Journal reported Monday.

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Grisham campaign spokeswoman Kendall Witmer said in a statement that the latest payments were part of a settlement that “resolved suspect and varied claims made by Mr. Hallinan, including his search for employment and clients following his tumultuous tenure on the 2018 campaign.”

“The campaign reached this settlement in 2020 due to the expense of litigating business disputes and to prevent any distraction during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Witmer said, the Albuquerque Journal reported. “Gov. Lujan Grisham will continue to work tirelessly for the people of New Mexico, delivering on record economic growth, educational investment, and tax cuts for New Mexico’s families — all while leading the state through the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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