The New Mexico Secretary of State’s Office has found no evidence Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham violated state campaign finance laws when she spent $6,000 on hair and makeup services, an official said in a letter Tuesday.
John Block, editor of the Piñon Post, a conservative online news site, had filed an ethics complaint against the governor in mid-May, alleging the use of those funds was a “flagrant violation” of state law.
He took issue with the governor’s decision to pay her daughter Erin Grisham, a hair and makeup specialist, $6,000 for services since 2017.
The governor’s campaign finance reports list the expenses as “media preparation” services.
Election Director Mandy Vigil wrote in her letter to Block such expenses are “reasonably attributable to the candidate’s campaign and not an expense that would have existed but for the Governor’s candidacy.”
She said her office’s 2020 Candidate Campaign Finance Reporting Guide in “no way precludes a candidate from making an expenditure on hair, makeup and nails. The key analysis is whether the expenditure is reasonably attributable to the candidate’s campaign, not solely what the expense is.”
But there are limits to such uses, Vigil wrote. She said the reporting guide makes it clear a political candidate could not use such funds to get her nails done if she was about to embark on a meet-and-greet tour in her district.
Block was not happy with Vigil’s response.
In an email, Block wrote, “Gov. Lujan Grisham’s ability to duck responsibility despite glaring evidence of shameless public corruption proves once again that New Mexico’s political system is rotted to its very core.
“Whether it be paying $62,500 in hush money to sexual accusers for crotch-grabbing incidents or delving out over $6,000 to her daughter for hair and makeup, institutions New Mexicans are supposed to rely on refuse to hold the governor accountable,” he continued.
Block was referring to the governor’s campaign, New Mexicans for Michelle, issuing five checks for $12,500 each to a former campaign staffer who accused the governor of grabbing his genitals.
Alex Curtas, a spokesman for the Secretary of State’s Office, said in April those payments to James Hallinan from campaign funds were a permissible expenditure under the Campaign Finance Act.
“Since the whole thing deals with what happened during the campaign, and he was a campaign staffer, that is an acceptable use of those funds in that context,” Curtas said at the time.
Regarding Block’s complaint, Kendall Witmer, Lujan Grisham’s campaign spokeswoman, wrote in an email Tuesday, “The blatantly sexist complaint from a discredited Republican operative was frivolous and without merit.”