Democratic candidate for New Mexico governor Gary King has battled numerous claims that female attorneys were paid less than their male counterparts in his attorney general’s office, and said three women suing him had "average capabilities."
After his campaign manager was forced to resign last week following the Washington Free Beacon’s report on his past offensive tweets towards women, King is facing fresh attacks regarding his own history and comments regarding women’s issues. Gov. Susana Martinez’s (R.) reelection campaign released a new ad on Thursday calling King’s record on equal pay for women "troubling."
King was sued multiple times for allegations that he paid male attorneys with less experience more than women in 2010. King ultimately settled lawsuits with three of the four women who brought cases against him, and one case was thrown out.
During the legal battle, King said three women who sued him were envious and that they were "attorneys of average capabilities."
"In my opinion, it appears that envy of the pay scales of other attorneys in the [attorney general’s office] who have greater and/or more specialized skills have caused the complainants to try to shortcut the process of obtaining salary increases by substituting a baseless claim of discrimination for the most certain way to advance in my administration, that is to work hard, be competent, and take the opportunities we offer to improve skills," he said, in a written statement for the lawsuit in 2011.
However, King gave the women a 5 percent pay raise following a meeting with them, though the lawsuit carried forward since they claimed they were still making less. Melanie Carver, an assistant attorney general who had 25 years experience, said she was paid less than six male attorneys who had less experience.
King ultimately settled with two of the women, awarding them a total of $31,500, and agreeing to conduct a pay-equity study within the attorney general’s office and adopt a policy to prevent gender-based inequity. King’s spokesman said the settlement was not an admission of guilt, but an attempt to "save taxpayers the cost of further litigation."
A separate lawsuit filed in 2010 claimed King fired a woman because of her age and gender, and that she was paid less than men in the office. After being fired in 2008, the woman, Deborah DeMack, said a younger male attorney who had less legal experience replaced her.
King’s office was forced to pay DeMack $46,558 last year after they failed to comply with the Public Records Act and hand over documents relevant to her case. DeMack also received $5,000 as part of a settlement for agreeing to dismiss the discrimination lawsuit, she said.
King recently released a campaign ad promising to "demand gender pay equity," drawing criticism from Martinez.
"Gary King has foolishly chosen to copy and paste talking points straight out of the Democratic national playbook while completely ignoring that he has a shameful record when it comes to equal pay for women," said Chris Sanchez, spokesman for the Martinez campaign, in a statement announcing a new ad challenging King’s record. "New Mexicans will not be fooled by Gary King’s attempt to rewrite history."
Request for comment from the King campaign were not returned by publication of this story.