The governor of New Mexico, known for her love of shiny objects to adorn her person, is finally getting some attention from the activist media. Michelle Lujan-Grisham – the head of state governing 2.1 million diverse folks – has weathered scandal after scandal but has received what could be described as a “free pass” from the Fourth Estate. Perhaps that’s about to change as Grisham is caught with her hand in the public information jar, potentially with an egregious violation of the New Mexico Public Records Act.
An independent investigative non-profit organization, Searchlight New Mexico, broke the news to the rest of the world that Grisham’s office supported using an encrypted messaging app called Signal. The accusation being that her office could conceal communications from non-loyal staff and the public should a request be made. The discovery comes after two senior staffers of the New Mexico Children, Youth, and Families Department were canned when they voiced their concerns about the use of concealing software. Searchlight reports:
“Searchlight also found that the Office of the Governor and the state’s Department of Information Technology supported the systemic deletion of messages, according to emails and policy guidance obtained through an Inspection of Public Records (IPRA) request.”
It is doubtful this use of the word “systemic” isn’t much fun for those involved. But the official guidelines for the collection of text communications reads: “Every single text message that you send or receive likely qualifies as a ‘transitory record.’ We recommend that you delete all text messages which are ‘transitory records’ every ten days. You may delete them more often if you wish.” Apparently, folks did learn something from the scandal in the FBI once sexting love messages and ways to get rid of a presidential candidate between former federal agents Lisa Page and Peter Strzok came to light.
State Republicans bristled and hissed at the news, tweeting and press releases flying, calling for an investigation. House Minority Leader Jim Townsend (R) wrote in a statement. “For the leadership in any state agency to think they can circumvent transparency by deleting public documents is a slap in the face to New Mexicans who have placed their trust in public service.”
Governing missteps happen. After all, even the robotic politicians are, in fact, human. But for those keeping track, Grisham’s mishaps seem far beyond simple poor decision-making. Remember, this is the governor who sent home the National Guard and allowed illegals to cross indiscriminately across the southern border shared with Mexico. But a few short months later, she begged then President Trump to send financial aid because her border towns were in crisis.
Oh, and remember the time Ms. Grisham used taxpayer dollars to buy her personal groceries. Last February, an Albuquerque news station took a gander at the governor’s invoices and receipts for six months. They totaled thousands of dollars in groceries purchased by Grisham out of her contingency fund. And while the good people were doing the part and standing in long lines at the supermarket, Grisham online ordered for mansion delivery, “anything from laundry detergent to Wagyu beef, tuna steaks, top sirloin and hundreds of dollars in alcohol purchases,” the station reported.
And then there was the time when the Albuquerque Journal reported on Grisham’s hefty payouts to keep former staffers quiet about alleged harassment during staff meetings. Grisham was the accused abuser. And last year, she opened a “non-essential” business against her own “closed” edicts – to make a pretty bauble purchase.
Grisham is undoubtedly not the first in-your-face abuser of public trust. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had several Marie Antionette moments during the lockdown, including designer and expensive ice creams and hair appointments. California Governor Newsom partied alongside his friends at a bar after threatening his constituents to stay home or risk arrest. The list goes on and on.
Perhaps a little extra national attention will help Ms. Grisham tap down her unhealthy urges to spend other people’s hard-earned money, violate public information rights, and to stop harassing staffers who question her motives. Or not. But it’s about time someone paid attention to New Mexico.
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