In a recent report by the Santa Fe New Mexican, Gov. Michelle Grisham has spent nearly $13,500 from a taxpayer-funded expense account on her own luxuries.
While imposing some of the most strict COVID-19 related restrictions in the nation, Gov. Grisham was also holding in-person meetings with Cabinet and New Mexico legislators at her mansion. She spent thousands of taxpayer dollars on groceries, dry cleaning, alcohol, tuna steaks, luxurious Wagyu beef, and raising several staff members salaries between $7,500 to $12,000 over a six-month period in 2020.
New Mexico House Minority Leader Jim Townsend called the governor’s spending “disenchanting” and added that it was one of the many reasons why people have started to distrust the government. They see messages of politicians telling them to stay home and cancel their Christmas plans while sitting with colleagues eating wagyu beef and drinking hundreds of dollars of alcohol with taxpayer dollars.
The money used comes from a legislature-approved contingency fund that is given to New Mexico governors and designated for events or meetings pertaining to state business.
“It’s not what tax dollars ought to be spent for. 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,” Townsend said.
House Minority Whip Rod Montoya accused Gov. Grisham of believing she has more privilege than anyone else. “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.
One of the receipts recovered from the Governor’s office shows a single trip to Sam’s Club and costing more than $200 on at least five bottles of tequila, two bottles of vodka, two bottles of merlot, a bottle of whiskey, and a bottle of gin.
Gov. Grisham told reporters during a virtual news conference that the grocery expenses also covered members of her staff, including maintenance workers and security detail, who were working around the clock. She said she knew the expenses “didn’t look good,” especially for struggling families during the coronavirus pandemic.
“When people are struggling, should it be fair that residents (of the governor’s mansion) literally have a locked-up grocery store closet that has libations and catering stuff and food? I don’t want New Mexicans to feel like I don’t take seriously their hardship,” Gov. Grisham said.
This is pocket change to a governor and just the “tip” of the iceberg in stories of politicians treating taxpayers as money machines. Just another Democratic politician proving that the restrictions have always been for political purposes and never as a necessity to the state.