Doña Ana County



            A Feb. 14 press release by nine Democrat legislators representing Dona Ana County called on the Dona Ana County Board of Commissioners to launch a formal investigation into allegations of sexual harassment and violations of the county’s code of conduct by District 5 Commissioner John L. Vasquez.

            County Commission Chairman Benjamin L. Rawson immediately reviewed the press release with County Manager Fernando R. Macias and the county’s Legal Department to determine whether the requested investigation could be launched, and the county manager concluded that a press release itself does not constitute a formal complaint upon which action can be initiated.

            “While I appreciate the importance of the issue and the interest by our legislators in these matters, and while I agree that any allegation of sexual harassment is non-partisan, the Dona Ana County Code of Conduct is our baseline for reviewing formal complaints against elected officials and staff,” Rawson said. “At this time, the one formal complaint that has been received from Ms. Johana Bencomo remains under review. I initiated immediate action on it. The legislative delegation’s request for an investigation lacks any specific allegations to be investigated.”

            Rawson emphasized that the county’s process is separate and distinct from any ongoing investigations involving other entities, such as allegations related to the New Mexico Democratic Party chair, adding that the county is a separate entity and does not have any specific information on any allegations regarding other organizations.

            “If we all agree that sexual harassment is never acceptable and should never be tolerated,” he said, “then we must also agree that any entity, including the Democratic Party of New Mexico, that receives any such allegations has the responsibility to proceed according to that entity’s due-process policies and procedures, just as Dona Ana County has done.”

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Reporters seeking more information or interviews may call county Public Information Director Jess Williams at (575) 525-5801.