New Mexico Democrat Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham once again used state tax dollars to fund an party at the governor’s mansion in October, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported Wednesday.
“Documents obtained under a public records request show New Mexicans for Michelle, the governor’s campaign committee, issued the state a $1,837 check in December to pay for expenses stemming from a Democratic Governors Association party hosted by Lujan Grisham in Santa Fe,” the local paper reported. “The reimbursement appeared in the governor’s campaign finance reports as a ‘campaign event.'”
Grisham served as chair of the DGA at the time of the political event held on the taxpayer dime.
While Grisham’s office did not immediately respond to The Federalist’s request for comment, Kendall Witmer, a spokeswoman for the governor’s re-election effort, told the New Mexican in a statement, “the campaign transparently and expeditiously reimbursed the state for an event hosted by the Governor as chair of the Democratic Governors Association.”
The money fronted by the governor’s contingency fund included $890 worth of dinnerware alone, according to the New Mexico paper.
“The contingency fund does allow for use [of the expense account] to host dignitaries and other guests from any political party,” wrote Grisham spokeswoman Maddy Hayden in an email to the New Mexican.
Rules surrounding use of the contingency fund, however, are obscure, according to a report from the state auditor’s office last summer.
“Statutory authority remains ambiguous without definitions concerning what constitutes ‘expenses directly connected with obligations of the elected office of governor,’ which could be broadly interpreted, or what could be considered ‘perquisites or allowances for state employees,'” read the report. “As a result, the New Mexico State Legislature may wish to review the matter and consider whether further statutory clarification is necessary with respect to the Fund.”
The report was published months after Grisham was caught spending thousands from the account for a series of high-priced groceries at the governor’s mansion including tuna steaks, Wagyu beef, and top sirloin, with hundreds more spent on alcohol.
Inappropriate use of the contingency fund is far from the only scandal to plague the incumbent governor up for re-election this November.
In October, new financial disclosures revealed Grisham paid out a total of $150,000 to settle a sexual harassment claim from an ex-campaign spokesman. During the pandemic, Grisham also became the mascot of Democratic hypocrisy on Covid lockdowns when she opened a jewelry store for an expensive purchase while businesses declared “non-essential” were closed. Meanwhile, the governor’s transparency practices have faced scrutiny for use of encrypted messaging apps to circumvent public oversight.