Another woman on Biden's VP shortlist treads troubled waters

New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham is among the women on the shortlist of Joe Biden’s choices for a running mate. She finds herself in some hot water over what looks to be asserting some personal privilege during a time when the state is under stay at home orders due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Grisham issued a stay at home order for the state during a press conference on April 3. The governor told the people of New Mexico to only go out for essentials, like food, and that all non-essential businesses must remain closed. “We are in really tough financial times as a state. It mirrors the incredible, personal sacrifices that happen every single day because people have limited their ability to work, telecommuting and many people, in fact, have lost their jobs,” she said. Little did anyone know that what the governor meant was everyone should limit purchases to essential items … except her.

An Albuquerque news station is reporting that just a matter of days after that early April press conference, and one week before Easter, Governor Grisham seems to have breached her own orders. Apparently, for the governor, expensive jewelry is an essential purchase that requires a shop clerk to open up the store. The jewelry store’s manager said Governor Grisham called up a jewelry store employee with whom she has “a longstanding personal relationship”, ordered what she wanted to buy, and then asked the salesperson to open up the store to get the item (s). Then that person took the purchase to her own home, set the package outside her door, and someone else came to pick it up for the governor.

My first thought was that the salesperson/friend must really trust her neighbors to leave expensive jewelry out for someone to pick up. The governor’s purchase brought questions from the news station but she refused to go on-camera for an interview. Grisham’s story is different than the store owner’s story. The governor’s office first tried to throw a staffer under the bus but later admitted it was picked up by a friend. The purchase was justified by a spokesperson for the governor as just following the governor’s orders or something.

The governor’s office first said it was a campaign staffer, then later told KRQE it was the governor’s friend, but wouldn’t release a name. They also said the transaction was entirely contact-less, remote and permissible.

The spokesman also pointed to the governor’s order at the time stating “none of the state’s public health orders have restricted the conduct of business operations in which an employee only interacts with clients or customers remotely.” However, that same order also states it requires the closure of physical retails spaces and doesn’t mention anything about home delivery.

This was also at a time when curbside pick-up was not allowed. Curbside pick-ups were allowed starting May 1. When asked if home delivery was allowed under the governor’s stay at home order, the spokesperson said it wasn’t a delivery. Um, what now?

In a time of non-essential closures where curbside was not allowed, KRQE asked if home delivery was okay. The governor’s spokesman said it was not a home delivery and businesses were encouraged to find creative ways to conduct business safely. He also added the store was not opened for the governor and stated that “turning the key inside a door to ‘open’ a store wouldn’t violate the order…” He also said non-essential businesses all across the state let employees in to do inventory or clean.

That’s a stretch, to put it kindly. The governor’s person picked up the jewelry and delivered it to the governor – that person just didn’t go to the jewelry store directly, he or she went to the salesperson’s home according to the manager’s story. When asked about having two people leave their homes to fetch some bling for the governor, her office admits it was an “unusual transaction”.

KRQE News 13 asked about the two people who left their homes to get jewelry to the governor. Her office says this was an unusual transaction and while “of course the governor has been telling people to stay home to the greatest extent possible, it also true she’s been urging New Mexicans to find ways to support local businesses.”

As you can imagine, other jewelry store owners aren’t pleased with the governor’s self-indulgence. The governor’s office points to the personal relationship she has with the salesperson and told reporters that “if a New Mexican has that kind of personal relationship with a local business and local businesses are trying to operate creatively to keep themselves and their employees afloat while staying safe, certainly this kind of transaction could have occurred.” So, apparently who you know trumps a stay at home order. Is that what we are to take from the governor’s office’s statement? Other businesses haven’t interpreted the stay at home order that way and say that they thought online orders were their only option to serve their customers.

So, if she is chosen to be Working-Class Joe’s running mate, she may want to check her privilege. Or not. The media is invested in the election of Biden so the governor could likely not even be asked about violating her own order while regular working folks were cooling their heels at home without a paycheck. I like nice jewelry as much as the next woman, but c’mon, what was so important that this purchase couldn’t wait? The governor hasn’t offered up any explanation about that part of the story.

A recent list of ten potential vice-president candidates on Biden’s shortlist includes Governor Grisham at number 8. She’s someone who fills the Latino vote outreach slot. Coming in at number 4 is Nevada Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, the choice being pushed by Harry Reid. Governor Grisham acknowledged she is being vetted for the job.

Just like the kerfuffle Governor Whitmer tried to explain away by claiming her husband was only joking, not exerting his privilege by invoking her name when he tried to jump the line to get his boat in the water at a Michigan marina over Memorial Day weekend, Governor Grisham will have to do better than trying to blame a staffer for her self-indulgences.