The Democratic governor of New Mexico is on the defensive after a report this week detailed her office spending from a taxpayer-backed spending fund.
Records show Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham spent nearly $ 13,500 on groceries, dry cleaning and alcohol over a six-month period in 2020, the Sante Fe New Mexican reported.
Alcohol spending included a purchase of more than $ 200 in September for five bottles of tequila, two bottles of vodka, two bottles of Merlot, and individual bottles of whiskey and gin, the report said.
In the same report, the newspaper announced that Grisham was holding personal staff meetings at the governor’s mansion while urging the public not to mix households in an attempt to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
About half of the $ 13,500 went towards groceries for cabinet members and governor staff during those meetings, Grisham spokesman Tripp Stelnicki told The Associated Press.
The Republicans were outraged by the governor’s use of taxpayers’ money.
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“I didn’t know the governor was so underpaid that she had to use discretionary money on things to pay for herself,” Rod Montoya, a Republican, told the New Mexican. “The lawmakers are all up here doing our job, and we do it every day.”
“I didn’t know the governor was so underpaid that she would have to use discretionary money on things she should pay for herself.”
“It’s not what tax dollars should be spent on,” Artesia’s Jim Townsend, New Mexico House minority leader, told the newspaper. “At a time when people are injured across the state, it must be a little disappointing for many people to use their tax dollars to buy Wagyu beef.
“I think it’s just an indication of the problem we were having and the governor had to connect with people,” he added.
“It’s not what taxpayers should be spending on.”
After the newspaper’s report appeared, Grisham took the matter up on Friday during a virtual press conference.
“I don’t want New Mexicans to feel like I’m not taking their plight seriously,” Grisham told reporters.
“I don’t want New Mexicans to feel like I’m not taking their plight seriously.”
Michelle Lujan Grisham, Governor of New Mexico. (Associated Press)
Grisham said she did not make the purchases in person. Instead, they were made by “a woman who works here.” [who] is a rock star, “reported the New Mexican.
On Thursday, Stelnicki announced the purchase of $ 200 alcohol. He said it was for a scheduled Christmas party that was ultimately canceled. He claimed that the bottles of alcohol he bought were left unopened.
The spending came in spite of a 2019 state law that set new limits on the use of the governor’s discretion. That bill was signed by Grisham’s predecessor, former Governor Susana Martinez, a Republican who also criticized the way her office spent cash, the New Mexican reported.
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New Mexico-year-old Grisham, who served as governor after serving in the U.S. House of Representatives and previously serving as the U.S. state health minister in her first term, has drawn heat away from companies due to her coronavirus restrictions.
In December, sources turned down an offer to Fox News to serve as home secretary in the Biden administration.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.