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4 Investigates: Review of expenses reveals governor spending most of her discretionary fund on groceries

A review of six months’ worth of invoices, receipts and expense reports of the governor’s contingency fund reveals a vast majority of it is spent for food for the Governor’s Residence. 

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A review of six months’ worth of invoices, receipts and expense reports of the governor’s contingency fund reveals a vast majority of it is spent for food for the Governor’s Residence. The timeframe of our review, July 1st through December 31, 2020, covers a time period when Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham restricted capacity of grocery stores, urged New Mexicans to limit time out of their homes and restricted business operations through a series of emergency public health orders.

The governor’s contingency fund is paid for by taxpayers and appropriated by the NM Legislature for the governor to spend on functions, events or items to promote New Mexico. The review conducted by the KOB 4 Investigates Team shows the governor’s contingency fund was used to pay for $6,545 in groceries, averaging out to about $1,091 each month. According to receipts made public through an Inspection of Public Records Act request, the items include anything from laundry detergent to Wagyu beef, tuna steaks, top sirloin and hundreds of dollars in alcohol purchases.

Gov. Lujan Grisham’s Director of Communications Tripp Stelnicki fielded questions concerning these expenditures.

Food Purchases

‘Who ate all that food? Who’s that food for?’ KOB 4 Investigator Chris Ramirez asked.

‘There are still meetings with cabinet and staff that are distanced small groups,’ Stelnicki said. ‘They are sporadic, but they last a long time and so there’s food at those meetings often prepared. There are people at the residence who are all masked. They include State Police security detail, maintenance and custodial/housekeeping staff.’

Stelnicki added members of the governor’s cabinet and other staff members spent long hours inside the Governor’s Residence in Santa Fe working on the budget or preparing pitches for the upcoming legislative session. During these meetings, they were fed gourmet meals, according to Stelnicki.

While the governor allowed an unknown number of people into her home, she discouraged New Mexicans from letting people into theirs.

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