On Tuesday, a bipartisan panel of state legislators on the Legislative Council unanimously voted in favor of a probe into Democrat Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s spending during the COVID-19 pandemic, where she reportedly spent $40 million in state money on New Mexico’s response to the virus.
The panel included Democrat Speaker of the House Brian Egolf and Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth, both from Santa Fe, as well as dozens of lawmakers from across the state.
According to the Albuquerque Journal, “At issue is whether the governor is limited to $750,000 when she authorizes emergency spending in an executive order. Most of her orders are set for that amount, and it’s consistent with what previous executives have done, legislative staff said.”
By spending 53 times what the state allows, the Governor’s predicament is serious, even in a health crisis, as the panel affirmed on Tuesday.
Lujan Grisham’s office brushed off the critical issue, saying, “If Legislative Council would prefer a different mechanism for responding to life-and-death emergencies under the laws they write,” the Governor’s Spokeswoman Nora Sackett continued, “they are empowered to make one.”
Democrat Sen. John Arthur Smith, Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said, “Quite frankly, we need to be drawing a line in the sand on this.”
According to Democrat Rep. Patricia Lundstrom, the Chairwoman of the House Appropriations and Finance Committee, “I have a lot of heartburn… that we have to do research to get information as opposed to it being shared with LFC.”
House Republican Leader Jim Townsend said, “This has been a concern — whether the Legislature is going to protect and provide the appropriate checks and balances to appropriations that occur,”