LAS CRUCES, N.M. - Bob Gallagher, a former NMSU regent and former Sunland Park city manager, has resigned from his job at the city of Jal amid accusations of sexual harassment, which he categorically denies.
Jal is a community of about 2,000 people near New Mexico's border with Texas.
A reporter with the Jal Record, the local newspaper, told ABC-7 Gallagher turned in his resignation before the city council was scheduled to meet this afternoon to review his contract. John Earp was there as the council voted unanimously to accept the resignation. The council also voted 4-1 to not allow public comment during the meeting, with councilor Dewayne Jennings voting against.
Gallagher's resignation will be effective December 29, and after that he will remain as a consultant for another 30 days to assist in the transition, Gallagher told ABC-7's New Mexico Mobile Newsroom.
In his resignation letter, Gallagher said he is leaving the town with mixed emotions.
"The political climate in Jal has gotten to be toxic at best and corrupt at worst," he wrote. "That environment is not conducive to being able to provide outstanding public service to our citizens and thus my decision to resign."
He also alluded to the sexual harassment allegations that surfaced this week. At least two women say he sent them crude text messages and asked for sex, KOB-TV in Albuquerque reported.
Dadrianne White told the station that Gallagher repeatedly sent her lewd text messages for two years and demanded to see photos of her. White said Gallagher once told her that she "owed him" for helping her get out of jail.
"If I refused to send him a picture, he would bring up the fact that he got me out of jail," White said.
Gallagher threatened to send her back to jail if she didn't have sex with him, White said.
Asked about the allegations, Gallagher said he "was not aware" of making a threat to have her sent back to jail if she did not have sex with him.
He later told KOB-TV the text messages to White were "a joke."
Another female employee says Gallagher asked for sex at a motel room during an out-of-town training session. The Jal City Council later suspended Gallagher for that social media private message.
"Did I engage in ill-advised but legal and consensual text messaging with an adult female? Yes. Did I in any way physically touch, pressure or attempt to exploit this individual? No," read a statement Gallagher sent to ABC-7 Wednesday defending himself. "Do I fully understand the current climate and national movement on this important subject? Of course I do. And that is precisely why another side of the story must be heard," he said.
He blamed a dispute over a Jal well and a "willing, greedy accomplice" for the sexual allegations.
"I leave this position extremely proud of our accomplishments and extremely humbled for the opportunity to be able to serve as your city manager," he said on his resignation letter Friday.
While being the city manager of Jal, Gallagher also worked as the city manager in Sunland Park, New Mexico. The city council fired him in August.
There was no discussion and councilors would not say why he was fired. Asked at the time if it was an issue of trust and belief in Gallagher's integrity, Sunland Park Councilor Ken Giove said, "Yup. He was screwing around in county politics."
Gallagher told ABC-7 that during his 18 months on the job in Sunland Park, councilors asked him to do several things he called illegal. He refused to do them and would not give ABC-7 an explanation of what exactly he was asked to do.
In both Jal and Sunland Park's case, Gallagher said he was proud of the work he did and how he brought professionalism and improved the towns' finances.