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New Mexico lobbyist accuses state lawmaker of groping her

Light fades outside the New Mexico State Capitol on Feb. 12 in Santa Fe. (Morgan Lee/Associated Press file)

SANTA FE – A lobbyist for progressive advocacy groups in New Mexico has accused a leading Democratic state senator of groping her at a hotel reception in 2015, calling on the lawmaker to resign in a public letter.

Marianna Anaya, a registered lobbyist whose recent work involves voting rights legislation, said Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto of Albuquerque grabbed and pinched her buttocks as she stood at a cocktail table during a reception for a teachers union at a Santa Fe hotel. At the time, Anaya worked on the congressional staff for Michelle Lujan Grisham, who left Congress to become governor in 2019.

“I froze and felt an overwhelming sense of embarrassment," Anaya said in a letter released Tuesday on social media and through an attorney. Anaya said she shared her experience after she said Ivey-Soto continued to harass her and others.

Contacted Wednesday, Ivey-Soto said he has no recollection of touching Anaya during the encounter and that he reacted with horror when she raised the issue recently.

“Her recollection is that I reached around and grabbed her behind,” Ivey-Soto said. “I was horrified when she told me this. That’s not me. I said I don’t reach around and unsolicited grab someone’s behind. I can just tell you categorically that I didn’t do that."

An attorney for Anaya said a written complaint against Ivey-Soto will be filed with the Legislature for investigation. Attorney Levi Monagle declined to share the complaint, citing procedural restrictions.

Previous allegations of sexual misconduct by lawmakers in their interactions with female lobbyists in recent years prompted an overhaul of anti-harassment training and investigative procedures at the Legislature, with new standards for what constitutes harassment and outside oversight of some investigations.

So far in 2022, four complaints of misconduct have been filed against New Mexico legislators. Legislative Council Service Director Raúl Burciaga, lead attorney to the Legislature, said further information cannot be disclosed without a preliminary investigation and finding of probable cause.

Previously, former State Rep. Carl Trujillo lost the Democratic primary in 2018 after a lobbyist accused him of inappropriately touching and propositioning her – though the lobbyist later declined to testify in a legislative inquiry. Trujillo denied the accusations.

Lobbyist Vanessa Alarid said in 2017 that a former House lawmaker had offered to vote for bill in 2009 if she would have sex with him.

Anaya’s letter describes encounters this year with Ivey-Soto over glasses of wine in his office and later at a restaurant to discuss legislation aimed at expanding voting access. She described Ivey-Soto’s behavior as aggressive and disrespectful, including shouting and sexual innuendo.

“That is why I decided to speak about this publicly,” she wrote. “You have a pattern of sexually abusive behavior and abuse of your power as a legislator, and I want every women who has to work with you to know about your actions and hold you accountable.”

Ivey-Soto said he has “no idea” about references to harassment of other women, and that his encounters with Anaya were never sexual. Ivey-Soto acknowledged confronting Anaya about her joining in previous calls for him to resign for badgering a female legislator during a Senate floor debate in 2021.

“I feel like a conversation with me would have been appropriate before publicly calling for my resignation,” Ivey-Soto said, highlighting his activism on legislation aimed at protecting victims of domestic violence and ensuring their safe access to voting.

The senator said he keeps wine in his state Capitol office to “de-intensify" conversations.

Anaya in 2017 publicly accused Democratic gubernatorial contender Jeff Apodaca of trying to kiss her on the mouth at a whiffle ball game in Santa Fe that brought together staff from the Democratic Party and a labor union that employed her.

Apodaca's campaign said the accusations were false. There was no official vetting. Apodaca lost in a three-way primary.

A statue of children playing outside the state Capitol during the annual legislative session Feb. 17 in Santa Fe. (Cedar Attanasio/Associated Press file)
A man walks under the state Capitol rotunda during the annual legislative session on Feb. 17 in Santa Fe. (Cedar Attanasio/Associated Press file)