Remember the sexual harassment complaint filed against Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto, Senate Rules Committee Chairman, earlier this year? You probably haven’t heard much about it.

Because that’s how the system is set up.

In February, a lobbyist filed a complaint against Ivey-Soto, citing events in 2015 and 2022. This complaint was followed by an open letter published from the lobbyist, and another open letter from eight nonprofits, which outlined eight additional incidents citing harassing behavior toward women from the senator.

On Tuesday, Sen. Ivey-Soto sent a letter to the Albuquerque Journal stating that the Legislative Ethics Committee sent a letter to his counsel that the complaint is indefinitely suspended, and no further action will be taken. Furthermore, no details of the process undertaken by the Ethics Committee, or any details of the investigation will be released.

Well. This is sadly unsurprising.

The actual process of the Ethics Committee investigation is unknown. The criteria to bring a complaint to a hearing are unknown. The influence the accused has over the investigative proceedings is unknown. The rights of the complainant are unknown.

From brief interviews with Ivey-Soto and the complainant this week, the Journal reported that overarching confidentiality requirements keep the proceedings under wraps and prevent the complainant from describing the process from her perspective. The confidentiality can be waived by the accused; Ivey-Soto has opted not to do so.

In his letter this week, Ivey-Soto takes the typical harasser’s stance: A tepid apology and some excuses that cover the behavior he had earlier claimed he didn’t commit, but I guess now was misinterpreted. In this case he alludes to past abuse as a child and a hearing problem that makes him talk loudly.

I have been profoundly deaf since the age of 28 and I understand it’s hard to modulate your voice. Yet, I have not had nine harassment accusations slapped on me. And I imagine other hard of hearing people have the same experience. We’re annoying, perhaps, but not abusive.

I wrote about this previously in the spring after I interviewed three of Ivey-Soto’s accusers for two hours on live radio. I don’t believe that these women would spend the time and expose themselves to the public scrutiny of live radio if their claims were false.

Let’s not forget that the complaints included allegations of Ivey-Soto drinking during the session day and keeping a wine refrigerator in his Capitol office. Ivey-Soto made no denial of these claims in a previous newspaper interview noting that drinking in his Senate office makes the tone of his meetings more “collegial.”

I have had the unfortunate duty of completing numerous sexual harassment investigations while serving as a naval officer. And I understand the need for confidentiality. However, the process was a matter of public record. And just from my own experience, there are some things in this case I don’t like.

First, that eight more victims stepped forward after the first complaint. This demonstrates a possible pattern of behavior which lends credence to the original complaint. Second, there is the complicating factor of alcohol in the workplace, which Ivey-Soto appears to have freely admitted to in the media.

Finally, Ivey-Soto’s own public statements on the matter raise my hackles. This statement in an interview with the Santa Fe New Mexican was completely inappropriate: “I’m not going to ask a Jehovah’s Witness to vote, and I’m not going to make a pass at a lesbian. There’s just no return on investment.” This statement speaks volumes about how Ivey-Soto views women. Either you can hit on them, or you can’t.

I know that hackles aren’t necessarily actionable, and this is where the current model of the Legislative Ethics Committee falls far short. It looks like serious allegations were made against a senior senator, and nothing happened. That’s because the process is secret.

Senate President Pro Tem Mimi Stewart, herself a previous target of misogynistic behavior on the Senate floor at the hands of Ivey-Soto, has called for revisions to the anti-harassment policy to introduce greater transparency and increase the amount of information that can be shared with victims. It’s a step in the right direction.

But too late to reverse perceptions that you can get away with anything if you are a powerful senior senator.