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.”