NM Sen. Ivey-Soto resigns as chairman of influential committee
The fallout from a harassment complaint filed against New Mexico Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto has now affected his position of power as a lawmaker in Santa Fe.
Last night, Ivey-Soto submitted a letter resigning as chairman of the Senate Rules Committee.
Ivey-Soto (D-Albuquerque) is still in office, and for now, he will retain a seat on the 11-member committee that is key to determining policy priorities and procedures for the part-time legislature.
His resignation comes as lawmakers prepare to meet today to discuss the terms of reference of the Senate Rules, indicating that a committee of lawmakers will begin the process anyway to remove Ivey-Soto from his post.
That process would have led to a full vote by Ivey-Soto’s Senate colleagues when the Legislative Assembly convenes for a 60-day session in January. The meeting scheduled for 4 p.m. Thursday is canceled, as is Ivey-Soto’s role as chair with the Rules of the Senate.
His resignation as president, which is effective immediately, also spares lawmakers from having to take a public position on Ivey-Soto’s behavior at the Roundhouse. This week’s meeting would have been the first public discussion and first vote by lawmakers on Ivey-Soto after an investigation into the allegations was conducted in secret.
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It all started in the spring when Ivey-Soto was accused of sexual harassment and misconduct by a lobbyist working with him on suffrage legislation. Roundhouse’s anti-harassment policy allowed the lobbyist’s complaint to be considered privately, surrounded by privacy laws that lawmakers are considering changing.
A leaked copy of an independent report shows sufficient evidence in two cases that Ivey-Soto allegedly violated the anti-harassment policy, but a panel of lawmakers convened to assess the case was unable to prosecute the case. case, and it’s apparently over.
In his resignation letter, Ivey-Soto said his prominence in leadership positions had “become a distraction” and he expressed concern “about the impact this is having on the Senate as an institution.”
In response, Senate Pro Tem Mimi Stewart (D-Albuquerque) said she appreciates Ivey-Soto’s decision “for recognizing the needs of our state and taking the steps it needs to take to ensure that we can move forward together”.
Senate Leader Peter Wirth (D-Santa Fe) echoed the statement.
“Sen. Ivey-Soto did the right thing. Now we are moving forward, continuing the important political work that voters sent us here to do. When we work together, we can accomplish a lot for our state,” Wirth said.
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A coalition of organizations presented several people who said Ivey-Soto harassed, intimidated and assaulted them. Some are calling for Ivey-Soto to be removed from the Senate altogether.
Senate leaders will have to balance how to work with organizations that lobby on behalf of many shared priorities. Jessie Damazyn, spokeswoman for a group of lobbyists who work with Democratic leaders but who have also suffered Ivey-Soto’s abuse, said her colleagues still want him removed from office.
“Daniel Ivey-Soto saw the writing on the wall. His colleagues were about to strip him of his presidency, and he resigned to save face. But that’s not enough,” Damazyn said. doesn’t belong to an elected office, period. The Senate should expel him.
Although the Senate hasn’t indicated it will remove Ivey-Soto from office, and any effort to do so likely won’t begin until the 2023 regular session, senators are considering changes to the anti-harassment policy that could create greater transparency, accountability, and established timelines for how these matters unfold.
These changes have the support of the Senate leadership. Ivey-Soto himself has also said he broadly supports reforming the process, although he has not yet specified what changes he thinks need to be made.
This could be that first step in restoring trust between lawmakers, lobbyists and the public in Santa Fe.
“Women bravely came forward to share their stories and seek justice, and special counsel found credible evidence of sexual harassment,” Damazyn said. “The Senate must take action to fix the broken reporting and investigation process and to ensure safety at the Roundhouse moving forward.”