New harassment allegations against lawmaker prompt call for state ethics commission to handle future complaints

Representatives of eight organizations called for a powerful state senator to resign Monday or for his legislative colleagues to remove him from office if he didn’t leave, in an open letter containing new allegations of sexual harassment and bullying.The accusations against Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto come a month after a lobbyist for Progress Now New Mexico, Marianna Anaya, accused the Albuquerque Democrat of sexually harassing her. Seven of the eight people accusing Ivey-Soto on Monday in the open letter were not named but gave the organizations’ permission to share their experiences, the letter states. 

After receiving Anaya’s complaint in February, legislative leaders opened an investigation into Ivey-Soto, adhering to a system where complaints against state lawmakers are kept confidential in a procedure overseen by other lawmakers. Ivey-Soto told New Mexico In Depth on Monday that he “will participate” in that investigation, but declined to respond to the specific allegations listed in Monday’s three-page letter, sent to state Senate leadership and media organizations. He also declined to respond to the allegations leveled against him last month by Anaya.One of the complainants in Monday’s open letter, Heather Ferguson, executive director of Common Cause New Mexico, isn’t satisfied with the current process in which lawmakers police themselves, saying it doesn’t build an atmosphere of trust. “Right now, when victims file a complaint they are turning it over to friends and colleagues of the lawmaker,” she said. “It’s a conflict of interest.” 

“It’s time for that space to be safe and professional for everyone,” Ferguson added, saying that anyone at the statehouse who abuses the power of their office should be held accountable.