Democratic New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham reportedly used thousands in taxpayer funds to purchase groceries, liquor, and dry cleaning for her personal use.
Grisham racked up a $13,500 tab during the last six months of 2020, according to financial disclosures reported on by the Sante Fe New Mexican. Her bill allegedly included $6,500 in luxurious groceries such as Wagyu beef and tuna steaks, as well as bottles of tequila, vodka, gin, wine, and beer.
Grisham or one of her surrogates allegedly spent $200 on alcohol during one visit to Sam’s Club and also used tax dollars to pay for her dry cleaning. People close to her were also reportedly receiving raises between $7,500 and $12,000 at the time.
“It really appears in the Governor’s Office as if she really believes herself to be more privileged than everybody else in New Mexico,” said Rod Montoya, a Republican who serves as the state’s House minority whip. “I didn’t realize the governor was so underpaid that she has to use discretionary money for things that she should be paying for herself. Legislators are all up here doing our job, and we’re doing it on per diem.”
“It’s not what tax dollars ought to be spent for,” said House Minority Leader Jim Townsend. “In the time when people are hurting all over the state, using their tax dollars to buy Wagyu beef has got to be a little bit disenchanting to many people. I think it’s just more of [an] indication of the problem that we have had and the governor has had connecting with people.”
Grisham also took flak for holding meetings at the governor’s mansion when she advised New Mexicans to avoid even family gatherings.
“Those are the kinds of things that cause people to totally distrust the government,” Townsend said. “When they see these [messages] of, ‘You need to stay home and you can’t have your family for Christmas and you can’t do this and you can’t do that,’ but I’m going to sit here and eat Wagyu beef and buy hundreds of dollars of alcohol with your tax dollars. What in the world would you expect them to think?”
Tripp Stelnicki, Grisham’s spokesperson, told the Sante Fe New Mexican: “There’s a difference between inviting someone into your house for the Super Bowl or someone’s birthday and having three or four Cabinet secretaries there to talk about their budgets amid an unprecedented economic downturn and to work out what we’re going to propose or recommend to the Legislature given the changing economic forecast.”
“I mean, the governor does live there, but it’s not like she’s inviting them into her living room,” he said.
Grisham has faced accusations of hypocrisy before. She reportedly defied her own COVID-19 lockdown order against non-essential businesses last May when she ordered a jewelry store to open for her own convenience, according to local outlet KRQE News 13.
After advising New Mexicans in early April to venture out only for essentials such as food, Grisham called Lilly Barrack on Paseo to order expensive jewelry. “The jewelry was bought over the phone, but the employee went to the store, got the jewelry and placed it outside the door of the store where someone who knew the governor picked it up,” KRQE reported. “This is according to the person who runs Lilly Barrack stores. She says she didn’t know about it until after it happened. She also said no one was allowed in the stores at that time due to the public health order.”