Piñon Post

NM ethics board rejects Lujan Grisham’s attempt to dismiss complaint

On Thursday, the New Mexico State Ethics Commission’s hearing officer, retired Judge James S. Starzynski, denied Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s campaign’s motion to dismiss an ethics complaint filed by Piñon Post editor and founder John Block regarding the Governor’s spending of thousands of campaign dollars to her daughter for hair and makeup. The campaign reported these expenses as “media preparation.”

The motion to dismiss by Lujan Grisham’s campaign, New Mexicans for Michelle (NMFM), claimed Block had no “actual knowledge” of the details of the complaint and that because the Ethics Commission signed a joint powers agreement with the Secretary of State (SoS), that it had no authority to rule. The Secretary of State’s office previously claimed the use of the funds was legitimate, despite state law and the SoS’s own guidelines saying exactly the opposite.

In response to the motion to dismiss, Block wrote, “The law clearly states, ‘The commission may share jurisdiction with other public agencies having authority to act on a complaint or any aspect of a complaint.’ … According to the Joint Powers Agreement signed by the Secretary of State’s office and the State Ethics Commission, the Ethics Commission does, in fact, have the authority to investigate this complaint and any such argument from the respondent’s council otherwise is an attempt to usurp… the Commission’s authoritative duties enacted by the Legislature.” 

Block added in his response letter that attempts at poking holes in what he believes to be a clear-cut case just “undermines New Mexicans for Michelle’s frail argument, which is bound together by obscure interpretations of state law and conjecture.”

In a prior jurisdiction determination following the motion and Block’s response, Ethics Commission Executive Director Jeremy Farris said the Lujan Grisham campaign’s “argument is unconvincing.  The Commission did not decline to exercise its jurisdiction over this matter.”

Now, Lujan Grisham is facing another blow from Starzynski, who wrote the following in his September 16 ruling:

NMFM correctly points out that the State Ethics Commission Act requires Block to have “actual knowledge of the alleged ethics violation”, that is, of the facts upon which he relies in his Complaint. See NMSA 10-16G-10(A).  It thus argues that  “Block did not have actual knowledge of the purposes of the expenditures he claims were impermissible,” and therefore lacked the actual knowledge required to submit a complaint to the Commission. See Motion at 7. Instead, NMFM argues that Block only “reviewed publicly filed campaign reports, found expenditures for hair and make-up, then used public records of the Governor’s calendars to conjure up events that he believed were related to the expenditures.” Id. 

To begin with, NMFM’s listing of the payment of $1,040.00 for “media preparation” can be construed as an admission of the activity in question.  Erin Grisham’s statement in her LinkedIn profile (as recited by Block in the Complaint 7) that she provides services as the “stylist and cosmetology consultant for Michelle Lujan Grisham for Governor”, see Complaint at 2, serves as another admission by one of the participants in the alleged campaign violation.  In consequence, reading those admissions provides [Block] the “actual knowledge” he needs to file the Complaint.  

Actual knowledge” is defined as “[d]irect and clear knowledge, as distinguished from constructive knowledge[.]” Black’s Law Dictionary (11th ed. 2019). Courts generally discuss the term in the context of determining whether a party’s knowledge of some fact or condition triggers (or defeats) a statute of limitations defense or some other legally-significant condition precedent. 2 “[Actual knowledge] does not mean first-hand knowledge, but only ‘knowledge’ as the word is used in common parlance[.]” Collins v. Big Four Paving, Inc., 1967-NMSC-019, ¶ 13, 77 N.M. 380, 423 P.2d 418. 

Even if the listing of the payment and the publication of the LinkedIn profile are not treated as admissions, Block has satisfied the State Ethics Commission Act’s “actual knowledge” requirement.  Block’s allegations are based on his review of NMFM expenditure reports and Erin Grisham’s LinkedIn profile. These allegations support a plausible inference that NMFM paid Erin Grisham for hair and make-up expenses. The State Ethics Commission Act does not require Block to have witnessed the make up being applied or the hair styled, and the receipt of a check, as a precondition to submitting a complaint. 

Starzynski added that “in order to fairly dispose of the Complaint, there must be a factual investigation by General Counsel. For that reason, the Motion to Dismiss filed by New Mexicans for Michelle should be denied, and the General Counsel should initiate the requisite investigation.” 

This is just the latest win regarding this complaint, which was originally filed in May, and it appears to be advancing to the final stages, where a concrete determination can be made on whether the Lujan Grisham campaign did, indeed, break state law.

Piñon Post interviews GOP gubernatorial candidate Jay Block

On August 21, 2021, Republican gubernatorial candidate Jay Block had a one-on-one interview with Piñon Post editor John Block (no relation) to discuss the 2022 governor’s race to take out Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, current events, and what Jay Block brings to the race. Jay Block is a retired lieutenant colonel in our nation’s Air Force and a current Sandoval County Commissioner in his second term.

WATCH:

If the video is not showing up for you, please visit the video here.

Find out more about Jay at BlockForNewMexico.com.

All Republican candidates for governor are scheduled for interviews and these interviews are being posted in alphabetical order by their last names. The next batch of one-on-one interviews will be posted this week featuring Rebecca Dow and Ethel Maharg.

The Piñon Post has made it a policy of not endorsing candidates. 

Piñon Post interviews GOP gubernatorial candidate Karen Bedonie

On August 25, 2021, Republican gubernatorial candidate Karen Bedonie had a one-on-one interview with Piñon Post editor John Block to discuss the 2022 governor’s race to take out Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, current events, and what Bedonie brings to the race. Karen Bedonie is a small businesswoman and former candidate for Congress in New Mexico’s Third District. 

WATCH:

If the video is not showing up for you, please visit the video here.

Find out more about Karen at BedonieTough.com.

All Republican candidates for governor are scheduled for interviews and these interviews are being posted in alphabetical order by their last names. The next batch of one-on-one interviews will be posted this week featuring Rebecca Dow and Ethel Maharg. 

The Piñon Post has made it a policy of not endorsing candidates. 

Piñon Post holding one-on-one interviews with candidates for governor

Over the next couple of weeks, the Piñon Post will be posting exclusive one-on-one interviews with all the New Mexico gubernatorial candidates who have responded to requests. 

In these interviews, Piñon Post editor and founder John Block will ask a multitude of questions about these candidates’ experience, what they would do as governor, and why they are cut out for the job.

Interview requests have been extended to all seven Republican gubernatorial candidates on the Republican side, which have all been accepted. Incumbent Democrat Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham was afforded the opportunity for an interview. As of Sunday, August 29, Lujan Grisham’s office has not responded or accepted the invitation. 

In fairness to all the candidates for governor, their interviews will be no longer than 40 minutes each and will include questions related to their experience, as well as some questions asked to all of them. The interviews will be posted in alphabetical order by their last name, to attempt the highest level of fairness to all and no appearance of favoritism to any such candidate. They will appear in this order: Karen Bedonie, Jay Block, Rebecca Dow, Ethel Maharg, Louie Sanchez, Tim Walsh, and Greg Zanetti. 

“I look forward to New Mexicans being able to hear directly from the candidates for governor, without the filter of the mainstream media spin,” said Block. “These interviews will give each candidate ample time and an equal platform for them to lay out their platforms and ideas while giving the public a resource to make up their own minds about the candidates.” 

“If Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is serious about keeping her seat in 2022, she will join all seven Republican candidates and accept the Piñon Post’s invitation for a meaningful interview.” 

The Piñon Post has made it a policy of not endorsing candidates.

NM Secretary of State clears MLG for misusing $6K in campaign cash on cosmetics

On Tuesday, the Secretary of State’s office cleared Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on an ethics complaint regarding her use of campaign dollars for hair and makeup expenses through her daughter, Erin Grisham.

Despite state law and the Secretary of State’s own guidelines explicitly forbidding candidates from using campaign funds for cosmetic expenditures, the Secretary of State’s office appeared to reverse its prior guidelines, giving the all-clear to state candidates to use donors’ funds for beauty needs if they are related to the campaign. 

The letter reads as follows:

Note: (CRA is the complaint and NMFM is New Mexicans for Michelle, the Governor’s campaign committee).

The crux of the CRA allegation is that “The governor’s personal use of campaign funds for hair and makeup through her daughter is a violation of New Mexico state law, as hair and makeup are not appropriate uses of campaign dollars, as set forth by state statute and reaffirmed by the Secretary of State in the official 2020 Campaign Finance Reporting Guide.”

Based on the Response, all the alleged expenditures to Beauty by Erin were for “campaign related photo shoots, campaign commercials, State of the State speeches and Democratic National Convention media and video appearances, some of which were nationally televised.” Response, pg. 2. The Response further stated that these expenses would not have existed but for the candidacy of the Governor. Id.

Based on the Response and analysis of the relevant statutory framework our office is unable to conclude that the expenditures to Beauty by Erin by NMFM are violations of the CRA or NMAC, for they are reasonably attributable to the candidate’s campaign and not an expense that would have existed but for the Governor’s candidacy. We would also additionally note that the example in our 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.”

However, through mentioning that the use of these campaign funds went toward the governor preparing for her State of the State speeches (which are an official act mandated by New Mexico state statute, not a campaign event), it would appear that the office is even clearing politicians to use campaign funds for official acts, such as legislators getting their hair and makeup done during the Legislative Session.

Piñon Post editor John Block, who filed the complaint, released the following statement: 

“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. It seems only the voters (who Lujan Grisham mocks as ‘lizard people’) can bring long-awaited justice at the ballot box in 2022.”

Gov. MLG points fingers as ethics board probes her $6K payments to daughter for cosmetology

On Wednesday, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s campaign brushed off a State Ethics Commission complaint made by Piñon Post editor John Block over her misuse of government funds for cosmetology visits by her daughter, Erin, who was paid $1,040.00 last October. Her campaign claimed the complaint was “frivolous and sexist.” The campaign cited an 11-year-old case of corrupt former Gov. Susana Martinez, who also allegedly used campaign cash for “styling.” 

New Mexico Secretary of State reports show that Martinez spent $1,385.00 for “styling” on August 16, 2010. Neither was the expense made to Martinez’s relative, nor was it explicitly revealed through that relative that it was for styling and cosmetic purposes, a violation of state law.

Erin Grisham did, indeed, disclose the purpose of her involvement with the campaign. She wrote very clearly that the purose of her involvement with the campaign was as a “[s]tylist and cosmetology consultant for Michelle Lujan Grisham for Governor Media,” which according to state statute 1.10.13.25(B)(2) NMCA and the Secretary of State’s own guidance, violates state law.

“These routine political expenses were for the governor’s speech and 14 other events she addressed for the Democratic National Convention in August 2020,” Jared Leopold, Gov Lujan Grisham’s campaign spokesman. “This type of event preparation expense is a common and necessary political expenditure for politicians of both parties.”

But now more evidence has come out revealing that Gov. Lujan Grisham’s campaign not only paid Erin Grisham $1,040 in October 2020 for “media preparation.” According to the Secretary of State’s website, Lujan Grisham made four additional payments to her daughter for “media preparation” totaling up to $5,043.

The payments began on August 17, 2017, for $643.88, May 14, 2018 for $2,080.00, October 10, 2018 for $1,920.00 and on March 5, 2020 for $400. The amount of donors’ money expended from the campaign to Erin Grisham now totals $6,083.88 and counting.

Gov. Lujan Grisham was not speaking in front of the Democrat National Convention in 2017 or 2018. To any reasonable everyday New Mexican or even one who holds a public office, spending over $6,000 for cosmetology purposes in four years is out of the ordinary. This pattern of spending, regardless of who is doing it, is not appropriate for a so-called public servant.

NM Ethics Commission investigating Gov. Lujan Grisham for misusing campaign funds

On Thursday, the Piñon Post’s editor, John Block, filed a New Mexico Ethics Commission complaint against New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham for misuse of campaign funds by paying her daughter Erin Grisham, a cosmetologist, $1,040 for “media preparation.”

Lujan Grisham’s daughter revealed on her LinkedIn profile that she acted as a “[s]tylist and cosmetology consultant for Michelle Lujan Grisham for Governor Media,” which according to state statute 1.10.13.25(B)(2) NMCA and the Secretary of State’s own guidance, violates state law.

An excerpt from the complaint:

According to an April 13, 2021 filing by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s gubernatorial campaign to the New Mexico Secretary of State (SOS), the governor paid her daughter, Erin, through an entity listed as “Beauty By Erin Grisham” $1,040 for “media preparation” on October 13, 2020 (Exhibit A).

Lujan Grisham’s campaign did not report that Erin Grisham’s services include hair and makeup, neither of which falls in the scope of what is permissible as a campaign expense.

Per state statute, “Personal use of campaign funds is any use of funds in a campaign account to fulfill a commitment, obligation or expense of any candidate or legislator that would exist regardless of the candidate’s campaign or responsibilities as a legislator.” 1.10.13.25(B)(2) NMCA

SOS Maggie Toulouse Oliver’s 2020 Campaign Finance Reporting Guide further affirms that “Hair, nail, or make-up expenses” are not permissible campaign expenses (Exhibit C).

Gov. Lujan Grisham’s daughter Erin has no apparent specialties in any field relating to media preparation, such as public relations or any other area that could be attributed to “media preparation,” such as speechwriting or digital media. On her LinkedIn profile, Erin Grisham explicitly states her relation to the Lujan Grisham campaign as the “[s]tylist and cosmetology consultant for Michelle Lujan Grisham for Governor Media.” This admission by Erin Grisham on her professional profile proves that the $1,040 for “media preparation” cannot in any reasonable terms be explained away as media preparation other than styling and cosmetology, which are explicitly barred as an expense, per state law (Exhibit B).

Block said, “Gov. Lujan Grisham’s flagrant abuse of state law is a slap in the face to the countless hard-working New Mexicans who play by the rules. While we are expected to follow her edicts, at every corner, she has broken state laws by misusing discretionary funds for wagyu steaks and booze, paying off her alleged sexual abuse victims with campaign cash, and now openly defying the Secretary of State by funneling her donors’ funds to her own daughter for salon visits.”

“New Mexicans are sick and tired of being played for fools while our politicians do whatever they want with no consequences. No public servant—no matter if they serve on a local school board or as the chief executive—should be above the law, which is why this ethics complaint is so important,” Block added.

On Thursday, the Ethics Commission confirmed its acceptance of the complaint, writing in an email that it “meets the requirements for administrative complaints set forth in 1.8.3.9(A)(2) NMAC and will be forwarded to the respondent(s).” The Ethics Commission noted that Lujan Grisham’s campaign has been notified of the complaint and that her use of funds is being investigated.

The Piñon Post has found additional payments adding up to $6,083.88 since 2017. A full report on the additional payments will come in due course.

NM oil producer speaks out against GOP CD-1 candidate who voted for MLG’s ‘Green New Deal’

The following letter was sent from oil and gas producer Roy Ables to the New Mexico Republican State Central Committee members ahead of Saturday’s vote on the GOP nominee for the First Congressional District to replace Democrat former Rep. Deb Haaland:

My name is Ray Ables. I own and operate a New Mexico oil and gas business called Pace Oil Field Services.

I’m writing to you today because one of the Republican candidates for the 1st District, Senator Mark Moores, voted for the New Mexico Green New Deal, also known as the “Energy Transition Act.”

I don’t believe our party should nominate a candidate who supports legislation like this that puts our New Mexico oil and gas industry at risk.

Let me explain the damage caused to our industry by this legislation that was pushed so hard by Michelle Lujan Grisham and the radical left. Oil and gas provides 40% of our state’s budget, thousands of jobs, and of course, affordable energy for our families. But the Energy Transition Act requires that New Mexico fully transition AWAY from oil and gas. 

As Daniel Turner, Executive Director of Power the Future, wrote for Fox News: “this destructive law is essentially a hidden carbon tax and will threaten the jobs of thousands of energy workers, raise utility rates, cut state revenue, and make green energy companies rich at the taxpayers’ expense.” You can read Turner’s full op-ed here: https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/daniel-turner-stealth-version-of-aoc-green-new-deal-now-the-law-in-new-mexico-voters-be-damned.

It’s no secret that New Mexico’s economy is one of the worst in the nation. And destroying oil and gas – the industry that keeps our state afloat – in the name of promoting “green energy,” is the worst possible policy decision. The fact that Senator Moores voted for Gov. Lujan Grisham’s New Mexico Green New Deal should be disqualifying in this race.

We need to send someone to DC who will fight for New Mexico jobs and stand up to the radical Democrats who will push Green New Deal legislation that will negatively impact New Mexico. If this vote is any indication, Mark Moores will be no different than Deb Haaland.

Thank you for your time, and for the sake of New Mexico’s oil and gas workers and the future of our state, I ask you to take this information into consideration ahead of your vote on Saturday. 

Respectfully,

Ray Ables

Opinions expressed by Piñon Post contributors do not necessarily represent the viewpoints of the publication or its editorial staff. Submit an op-ed to the Piñon Post at news@pinonpost.com.

PETITION: Demand the resignation of Rep. Phelps Anderson for betraying his constituents

State Rep. Phelps Anderson (DTS-Roswell) was elected on a pro-life ticket as a Republican by the voters of New Mexico’s 66th District—which includes Roswell, a “sanctuary city for the unborn.” However, Anderson betrayed his constituents’ trust by voting for the abortion up-to-birth and infanticide bill, H.B. 7.

After massive backlash from his home district and across the state, he left the Republican Party in disgrace to become an Independent. He then on February 10 voted against a pro-life bill to protect women going to abortion facilities during COVID-19. On February 19, Anderson voted for the final passage of S.B. 10, abortion up-to-birth, and infanticide legalization.

But the people of the great 66th District did not elect an Independent—They elected someone they thought was a Republican. They also thought they were electing a pro-life representative, but now they are left without any representation at all.

However, Rep. Anderson doesn’t care. He callously told reporters, “Resignation is not a choice for me because I believe when an unpopular vote is made, we cannot expect our legislators to resign.” 

If Rep. Anderson refuses to resign and he continues to serve in the New Mexico House, the people of District 66 will be without representation for 23 months—equivalent to one year and 11 months.

Rep. Anderson’s betrayal should not be tolerated, which is why today, the Piñon Post is launching a petition demanding Rep. Anderson resign. 

As I said before, Rep. Anderson “must now resign and allow local leaders to fill his seat with someone who truly represents the 66th District. The time for wishy-washy and unreliable ‘Republicans’ in the House is over.”

Please sign the petition and help us make a real difference! 

PETITION: Demand the resignation of Rep. Phelps Anderson for betraying his constituents

Dear Rep. Anderson:

Dear Rep. Anderson:
Your votes for the extreme abortion up-to-birth and infanticide bills, H.B. 7 and S.B.10, have not only sparked outrage in the 66th District by the people who elected you as a pro-life REPUBLICAN to that seat. Your votes have forced Republican Party leaders to decry your grievous actions publicly.

The votes you took show that you callously disregard sacred human life and that you do not adequately represent the people of District 66, which includes the city of Roswell—a “sanctuary city for the unborn.” The city affirmed that “the protection of all human life is important to the people of the City of Roswell.”

Your vote blatantly betrayed the very locality you claim to “represent” in the House of Representatives.

Now, with you switching parties to a “Declined to State,” your lack of a caucus and your uncertain committee assignment standing, the people of the 66th District have no voice in the House advocating for them.

You will do nothing but cause more division in your district by remaining in the Legislature, which is why We The People demand you resign from the House of Representatives.

Below you will find the names of hundreds of New Mexicans who are demanding you resign your office and end your shameful tenure in the House of Representatives.

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PHOTOS: Trump supporters march on Washington as Congress votes on Electoral College

On Wednesday, American patriots from across the United States gathered in Washington, D.C. for the gigantic “Stop The Steal” rally hosted by multiple groups, spearheaded by Women for America First. Hundreds of thousands of Americans of all ages and backgrounds gathered at the Ellipse in President’s Park all the way past the Washington Monument and beyond.

The protest resulted in multiple individuals interrupting Congress’ certification of Joe Biden’s alleged fraudulent victory when some protesters stormed into the U.S. Congress, resulting in the evacuation of Vice President Pence, as well as all members of Congress. An unarmed woman, Ashli Babbitt, a 14-year Air Force veteran, was shot and died thereafter. Three others were killed, while there were 52 arrests in total. 

Our editor, John Block, was at the Stop The Steal march. Here are some photographs he took at the event: 

Democrats, including Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and the entirety of the U.S. Congressional delegation for New Mexico, including Rep. Herrell, decried the violence at the Capitol. “I am safe, but the violence at the Capitol is entirely unacceptable. I urge all those in Washington today to allow Congress to continue its business as the Constitution requires,” said Rep. Herrell in an initial statement.

In a later statement, Herrell wrote, “The violence at the U.S. Capitol today is reprehensible. I condemn anyone who would endanger our men and women in law enforcement like this in the strongest terms, and I am deeply grateful to the Capitol Police officers who kept me safe today.” 

Gov. Lujan Grisham released stronger language, claiming those who breached the U.S. Capitol were “domestic terrorists.” She wrote, “I am sickened by what is occurring at the U.S. Capitol. It is nothing less than domestic terrorism, enacted in an effort to overturn a free and fair election.” 

Fraud has been proven in the U.S. election, and countless irregularities have been sighted across the board. Evidence of election fraud can be found here

The U.S. House was only allowed to vote on two motions certifying electors for the states of Arizona and Pennsylvania. On these allowed votes, Rep. Herrell was the only member of the New Mexico delegation to vote against both measures. 

Here is Herrell’s speech on the Pennsylvania electors:

When Vice President Pence asked for objections to the certifications of New Mexico’s electors, no objections were seen, including from Rep. Yvette Herrell.

In a subsequent statement on Facebook, Herrell wrote the following: 

Late last night, I kept my promise to object to the certification of the Electoral College tallies from the two states for which votes were permitted: Arizona and Pennsylvania. No other objections for any other state, including New Mexico, had the required backing of at least one U.S. Senator that would have allowed a vote on the House floor.

The unconstitutional election changes in numerous states disenfranchised my constituents in New Mexico. I hope that by joining so many of my House colleagues in objecting we can shed light on the problems with the 2020 election and move towards solutions that restore integrity and confidence to our electoral system.

As President Trump said this morning, there will be an orderly transition to the new administration on January 20th. I will continue to work on behalf of the people of New Mexico’s Second District to support our shared values of limited government, free markets, and Constitutional rights.

There was a large demonstration at the New Mexico Capitol, with over 300 attendees rallying to stop the steal in Santa Fe. KRQE News reported that the state Capitol was evacuated amidst the pro-Trump protests, however, it was peaceful.

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