Piñon Post

MLG returns illicit campaign donations after ethics complaint filed

After an ethics complaint was filed by Santa Fe Republican Party officer and “Stop MLG” founder Brett Kokinadis, scandal-ridden alleged serial groper Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham returned illicit campaign donations that exceeded contribution limits.

The Governor returned $4,200 to Intrepid Potash, a Denver-based mineral company, which gave Lujan Grisham $25,000 when gubernatorial candidates are only allowed $20,800 from each entity. 

According to the Associated Press, “The Lujan Grisham campaign also amended its filing to identify previously undisclosed sources of four recent campaign contributions. Those include two donations totaling $10,400 from Chevron Policy, Government & Public Affairs, a $4,000 contribution from a political committee led by Democratic state Senate President Mimi Stewart and $2,500 from the Health Care Service Corporation Employees political committee.” 

Health Care Service Corporation reportedly oversees BlueCross BlueShield of New Mexico, a state-sanctioned provider of Medicaid health care coverage.

Republican House Leader Jim Townsend (R-Artesia) is a contributor to Stop MLG. 

When Kokinadis filed the complaint, he said, “New Mexicans deserve better than this. This Governor’s habitual behavior is hurting the state and its citizens–all for personal gain for the Governor.” 

“Her illegal actions have embarrassed New Mexico for too long. From ignoring the legislature during the extended COVID restrictions, ignoring and violating her own public health orders, using campaign donations to settle alleged sexual allegations, purchasing lavish meals and alcohol, covering up issues at CYFD, and now violating ethics laws, all while New Mexicans continue to suffer from her unfair policies, it’s obvious why should accept monies in any amount–she needs them to aggressively campaign to combat her failed and unfair policies.”

Another ethics complaint filed by Piñon Post founder and editor John Block in May is still ongoing, in which Block is going after the Governor for improper use of campaign funds to pay her daughter, Erin Grisham, for hair and makeup — a direct violation of state law and Secretary of State guidance.

Gov. Lujan Grisham is up for reelection in 2022, facing off against seven Republicans, including businesswoman Karen Bedonie, Sandoval County Commissioner Jay Block, state Rep. Rebecca Dow, Right to Life of New Mexico executive director Ethel Maharg, businessman Louie Sanchez, former Gary Johnson staffer Tim Walsh, and financier Greg Zanetti. Note: These candidates have been listed in alphabetical order.

Piñon Post demands Dems speak out amid MLG groping scandal or they are complicit

On Monday, Piñon Post editor John Block sent a letter to high-ranking New Mexico Democratic Party officials and lawmakers demanding accountability for Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s alleged groping of multiple men, including that of James Hallinan, which resulted in her paying him $150,000 in hush money.

The Piñon Post is calling for high-ranking officials, including legislative, congressional, statewide, and Democratic Party of New Mexico leaders, to denounce Lujan Grisham or else they are complicit in perpetuating sexual violence.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo faced bipartisan pushback against his alleged sexual abuse, of which he never paid off his accusers like Lujan Grisham. But Lujan Grisham said regarding Cuomo in March 2021, “I’m, frankly, in that group of elected leaders, that you believe the individual, you give real credit and credibility there, if you don’t, we are revictimizing brave men and women who come forward.” 

The Piñon Post is demanding Lujan Grisham live by her own standard and not revictimize these men who have accused her by remaining in office to perpetuate more violence upon the people of New Mexico.

“New Mexico Democrats must hold Michelle Lujan Grisham accountable or else they, too are complicit in covering up sexual assault victims’ voices,” said Block.

“There is absolutely no excuse — not one — to justify the governor’s depraved behavior and her subsequent gagging of accusers with hush-money payments from her campaign account. New Mexico Democrats must bravely stand up against Michelle Lujan Grisham and call for her immediate resignation,” he added. “The time for action is now.” 

Read the letter sent to the lawmakers here. 

MLG points fingers to defend her abuse of power

According to a new report, scandal-ridden alleged serial groper Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is trying to defend her abuse of power by unilateral spending of hundreds of millions of federal funds during the pandemic, which has sparked a lawsuit from two lawmakers, a Democrat, and a Republican.

The Governor’s chief general counsel Holly Agajanian claimed “precedent” gave Lujan Grisham sole authority to blow  $1.7 billion in federal monies, while also saying, “unallocated dollars from the federal American Rescue Plan Act are currently in a suspense account – not the state treasury – [meaning] the Legislature lacks the legal reach to earmark the money,” according to the Albuquerque Journal.

“In short, the ARPA funds are not subject to appropriation because they are not ‘in the treasury,’ ” Agajanian argued.

Sens. Greg Baca (R-Valencia) and Jacob Candelaria (D-Bernalillo), both attorneys, argued the case as a “constitutional emergency of generational importance.”

Democrat State Treasurer Tim Eichenberg reaffirmed the two lawmakers’ arguments in a filing requested by the Supreme Court on his agency’s opinion of the matter dealing a crippling blow to Lujan Grisham’s argument.

But Agajanian tried to point the finger back at legislators who don’t approve of Lujan Grisham’s lawless spending. “It would be just as much of a violation of [the] separation of powers to intrude on the governor’s executive managerial function to administer federal funds in the state’s custody,” she claimed.

Lujan Grisham has spent millions of these critical federal dollars to bribe New Mexicans to get inoculated, with a $10 million lottery, $100 stipends for shots at certain points in the pandemic, and ​​$5 million to incentivize New Mexicans to stay home and not work — a move that is crushing the economy and fueling a staffing shortage. 

Despite the Governor’s office claiming it is meeting with lawmakers to discuss spending the remainder of the federal cash, she hasn’t specified who she is speaking with and what proposals such conversations would be about. 

The Governor is currently embroiled in a sexual assault scandal, where she paid a former staffer, James Hallinan, $150,000 in hush money from her campaign after she was said to have poured water over his crotch and then groped him. Another man came forward in 2018 alleging similar conduct from Lujan Grisham. She is also under investigation by the State Ethics Commission due to a complaint by Piñon Post founder and editor John Block over Lujan Grisham spending over $8,000 in donors’ funds for paying her daughter for hair and makeup.

Finance report: MLG received $10.4K from Pelosi, paid daughter more cash for cosmetics

The Washington, D.C. swamp is coming to bat for scandal-ridden alleged serial groper Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham as she fights to stay in power following a calamitous tenure. Other than an economic catastrophe caused by Lujan Grisham leading to at least 40% of small businesses being crushed, millions of dollars have vanished from public agencies and her administration has seen some of the highest turnover in state history, with over 24 cabinet members jumping ship.

Now, as she faces tough opposition from seven declared Republican candidates who aim to take her out, Lujan Grisham’s buddies in Washington are coming to her rescue. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) gave the Governor a maxed-out donation of $10,400 from her reelection fund, while Democrat Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) gave Lujan Grisham $2,500 from his campaign account. 

Rep. Filemon Vela, Jr. (D-TX) gave Lujan Grisham $10,000, Rep. Julia Brownley (D-CA) gave her $1,000, Rep. Annie Kuster (D-NH) gave her $1,000, Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) gave her $1,000, while Rep. Mark Veasey (D-TX) gave her $1,000. Attorney General Hector Balderas’ political campaign gave her $10,400 and Gov. J.R. Pritzker (D-IL) gave her two donations of $10,400. 

Big PhRMA gave Lujan Grisham $5,000, Johnson & Johnson PAC gave her $5,000, Deloitte Political Action Committee gave her $10,000, marijuana company owned by former Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White PurLife gave her $10,000, $10,400, $10,400, and $10,400 in four apparently separate accounts, the Bregman Law Firm gave her $10,400, The Bregman Livestock Company gave her $10,400, Keller and Keller gave her $1,000, Garcia Infinity and Garcia Subaru donated $10,400, respectively, while the pro-abortion group EMILY’s List gave her $9,400. 

Marathon Oil gave Lujan Grisham $4,600 and $10,400, despite the Governor being rabidly anti-oil and gas and signing New Mexico’s Green New Deal, the “Energy Transition Act.” 

The Democrat Governors Association (DGA), which Lujan Grisham chairs, gave her two donations of $10,400, which appears to be a conflict of interest since she apparently has oversight on the DGA’s expenditures, which just so happen to benefit her. 

Also included in this report is a donation of $480 to her daughter’s beauty endeavor “Beauty by Erin Grisham,” but the expense is listed as “office expenses.” Piñon Post founder and editor John Block filed an ethics complaint in May against the Governor for her use of campaign funds for hair and makeup — a direct violation of state law. In previous campaign reports, Lujan Grisham listed the hair and makeup payments as “media preparation.” 

In a June 1, 2021, sworn affidavit from Dominic Gabello, Lujan Grisham’s former staffer and campaign consultant, he claimed the latest payment of $480 in April was for the Governor’s State of the State address, which does not appear to fall in line with the purported description of the expenditure, which the Governor’s campaign reported as “office expenses.” 

The Ethics Commission has yet to make a final determination on the ethics complaint, but Lujan Grisham had multiple setbacks after the Commission characterized her lawyer’s arguments defending the misuse of funds as “unconvincing,” denying the campaign’s request for a dismissal of the complaint. 

Lujan Grisham paid $150,000 in campaign funds to a sexual accuser, James Hallinan, who said she poured water over his crotch and then groped him. She claims to be innocent, but most innocent people do not pay off their sexual accusers in hush money, especially to the tune of hundreds of thousands of donors’ money.

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.

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