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Gov’s campaign spending on hair, makeup deemed allowable

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s campaign did not violate state law by spending funds on hair and makeup services, including in advance of the governor’s 2020 State of the State address. The determination was made by the Secretary of State’s office in response to a recent ethics complaint. (AP Photo/Craig Fritz)

SANTA FE —  Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s use of campaign funds on hair and makeup services in advance of photo shoots and high-profile speeches did not violate campaign finance laws, New Mexico’s state elections director has determined.

Mandy Vigil, the elections director in the Secretary of State’s Office, said the campaign expenditures made by Lujan Grisham’s campaign to her daughter’s beauty business were “reasonably attributable” to the governor’s campaign, a finding that means they are permissible under campaign regulations.

The determination the governor’s campaign spending did not violate state law appears to put to rest — at least for now — an ethics complaint filed last month by a conservative activist.

The complaint filed by John Block, who is also the founder of a conservative online media outlet, focused on a $1,040 payment in October last year to “Beauty By Erin Grisham,” an expense the governor’s reelection campaign listed on mandatory campaign finance reports as being for media preparation.

In a response letter, an attorney for Lujan Grisham’s campaign said the expenditure had a clear campaign purpose — live interviews and a prime-time speech during the Democratic National Convention.

An affidavit from the governor’s former campaign manager Dominic Gabello, who is now a political consultant, also cited six other campaign expenditures made to Lujan Grisham’s daughter’s beauty business.

In all, the seven expenditures totaled roughly $8,003. They include several photo shoots and campaign commercial shoots before Lujan Grisham was elected in November 2018, along with hair and makeup services in advance of the governor’s State of the State addresses in 2020 and this year.

A Lujan Grisham campaign spokeswoman touted the ruling from the Secretary of State’s office in a Monday statement.

“The blatantly sexist complaint from a discredited Republican operative was frivolous and without merit,” Lujan Grisham campaign spokeswoman Kendall Witmer said. “The governor is focused on leading the state’s recovery from the pandemic and delivering for New Mexicans.”

Meanwhile, Block posted a statement on his conservative online news site blasting the Secretary of State’s office’s determination and calling on New Mexico voters to oust Lujan Grisham in 2022.

“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,” Block said in his statement.

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