Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto, D-Albuquerque

Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – Members of about two dozen advocacy groups asked legislative leaders Wednesday to bar Democratic state Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto from interim committee meetings while sexual harassment allegations against him are pending.

In an open letter, they said Ivey-Soto, as committee member, is in position to influence the outcome of bills brought by lobbyists who have accused him of inappropriate behavior.

Ivey-Soto said Wednesday that he hasn’t mistreated anyone during interim committee hearings and is entitled to be treated as innocent until the complaint is resolved.

The open letter comes after lobbyist Marianna Anaya – whose clients include the left-leaning Center for Civic Policy and ProgressNow New Mexico – filed a complaint under the Legislature’s anti-harassment policy earlier this year.

She has accused Ivey-Soto of sexual harassment and abusive behavior as she sought support for a voting bill being heard by a committee he led in the 2022 session – allegations Ivey-Soto has vigorously denied.

A coalition of advocacy groups later accused him of a pattern of abusive behavior against women. Ivey-Soto pledged to cooperate with any investigation into the allegations.

The status of Anaya’s complaint isn’t clear. Legislative leaders are empowered to initiate an investigation, but it’s confidential unless probable cause is found to support the allegations.

Lawmakers have suggested the inquiry is pending. Complaints made between formal legislative sessions are referred to the Interim Legislative Ethics Committee, which can, in turn, assign some of its work to a subcommittee.

Senate President Pro Tem Mimi Stewart, D-Albuquerque, said the subcommittee’s “work is not yet completed and until it is we must follow the procedures, confidentiality and due process required by policy.

“The subcommittee leads this process, not outside counsel or leadership, and they must be afforded the time to gather all the information they need before any decisions or further action related to this matter will be made.”

Stewart said she respects the concerns expressed by advocates and would “take them into consideration at the appropriate time.”

In their letter, members of Common Cause, Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, Equality New Mexico and others called on Senate leaders to remove Ivey-Soto from interim committees until the complaint is resolved as a matter of fairness.

“As a committee member,” they said, “he has the power to cross examine, embarrass, and even intimidate the very same advocates who have accused him of harassment. He can also influence the outcome of the bills brought by these women.”

Ivey-Soto, whose district covers part of the Northeast Heights in Albuquerque, said he hasn’t retaliated or mistreated anyone.

In a written statement, he said that “if I had acted in any kind of retaliatory or unprofessional manner toward anyone associated with the complaint, then I would understand the request. However, since that has not been the case, I think their request to leadership belies the American standard of innocent until proven otherwise.”