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Conservative activist files complaint over Lujan Grisham expense

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – The editor of a conservative media outlet has filed an ethics complaint accusing Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s reelection campaign of improperly spending campaign funds on her daughter’s beauty business.

The complaint focuses on a $1,040 payment in October last year to “Beauty By Erin Grisham,” an expense the governor’s reelection campaign described as for media preparation.

But in his complaint, conservative activist John Block said Erin Grisham’s business focuses on cosmetology, not media preparation, and isn’t a permissible campaign expense.

He cited a state campaign finance guide published in 2019 that listed hair, nail and makeup services as personal – not campaign – expenses.

Jared Leopold, a spokesman for the Lujan Grisham campaign, said the governor’s media-preparation spending was related to her appearances before the Democratic National Convention last year – an expense he said is clearly tied to campaign activity, not personal, and allowed under state law.

He noted that Lujan Grisham’s predecessor, Republican Susana Martinez, had reported a similar campaign expenditure for “styling” in 2010.

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

He called the ethics complaint “frivolous and sexist.”

Block, a conservative activist and campaign volunteer who lives in Alamogordo, is founder of the Piñon Post, an online publication. He filed the complaint Thursday.

“No public servant in New Mexico should be above the law regardless of what office they may occupy,” Block said in the complaint.

He isn’t related to Jay Block, a Sandoval County commissioner who is seeking the Republican nomination to challenge Lujan Grisham next year.

Regulations issued by the Secretary of State’s Office allow campaign funds to be spent for purposes “reasonably attributable to the candidate’s campaign” but not for personal use or living expenses.

Spending is prohibited if “the expense would exist even in the absence of the candidacy,” according to state rules.

Block filed his complaint with the State Ethics Commission, which notified him that it was referring the issue to the Secretary of State’s Office. A spokesman for the office, which shares jurisdiction over campaign rules, said he couldn’t comment until there’s a ruling.

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