Governor accused of wasting taxpayer dollars on booze and gourmet food

By Jack Davis, The Western Journal

Even as Democratic New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham was telling New Mexicans that life had to be hard and locked down amid the coronavirus pandemic, she was spending money on high-priced luxuries, according to a new report.

Documents show that among nearly $13,500 spent by the office through its discretionary fund in the second half of 2020, more than $6,500 has doled out for Wagyu beef, tuna steaks and bottles of tequila, vodka, gin, wine and beer, according to the Santa Fe New Mexican.

“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 Republican state House Minority Whip Rod Montoya, who said the governor has a salary that should cover her food needs.

“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,” he said. “Legislators are all up here doing our job, and we’re doing it on per diem.”

Republican state House Minority Leader Jim Townsend said Lujan Grisham crossed a line.

“It’s not what tax dollars ought to be spent for,” he said. “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 indication of the problem that we have had and the governor has had connecting with people.”

The governor was also being criticized for holding in-person meetings with select groups of state officials and legislators.

Townsend said Lujan Grisham was “acting like she’s better than everyone else.”

Lujan Grisham had been among the government leaders who urged families not to gather at Thanksgiving.

“I know it’s hard because we’ve had eight months where we can’t be with our friends and families,” she said then. “Do everything in your power not to mix households. I know that that’s asking a lot because Thanksgiving is exactly how we celebrate, bringing our families from multiple households together. This is ripe for spreading this virus.”

Tripp Stelnicki, the governor’s spokesman, said the fuss over a few socially distanced meetings was overblown.

“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,” he said.

“I mean,” he said, “the governor does live there, but it’s not like she’s inviting them into her living room.”

Townsend said Lujan Grisham was guilty of the do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do syndrome that has ensnared other politicians.

“Those are the kinds of things that cause people to totally distrust the government,” he 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?”

Stelnicki said that a staff member — whom he did not name — who purchased $200 worth of liquor “might have been guilty of some optimistic thinking” when COVID numbers were dropping and the prospect of holiday parties loomed.

He said the liquor has never been opened.

Lujan Grisham on Friday said she had done nothing wrong, according to the Santa Fe New Mexican.

“I don’t want New Mexicans to feel like I don’t take seriously their hardship,” she said.

She described the staff member who bought the booze as a “woman who works here [who] is a rock star.”

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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