ALBUQUERQUE – New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s chief of staff John Bingaman has taken a leave of absence to help with Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s transition team.
Lujan Grisham was recently named as one of the co-chairwomen of Biden’s transition team and asked Bingaman to assist with the potential transition, said Nora Meyers Sackett, a spokeswoman for the Democratic governor.
Bingaman took a leave of absence starting last week because his duties relevant to the Biden campaign are not within the scope of state government affairs, Sackett said.
“There is a bright ethical line between political activity and governance, and the administration takes the obligation not to cross that line seriously,” Sackett said. “Even the mere perception of an intermingling of official and political business would be unacceptable.”
Other co-chairpeople on the transition committee include former Democratic senator from Delaware and longtime Biden adviser Ted Kaufman and Democratic Rep. Cedric Richmond from Louisiana.
Lujan Grisham has campaigned for Biden several times in recent months during virtual roundtables. She was also scheduled to be a part of a Tuesday fundraiser with musicians Willie Nelson and Bob Weir, former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke and others.
The appearances have prompted criticism from New Mexico Republicans who argue that a Biden presidency would hurt the state’s energy-reliant economy, the Albuquerque Journal reported.
Bingaman is the son of former New Mexico Sen. Jeff Bingaman, who served from 1983 to 2013. John Bingaman has been the governor’s chief of staff since she took office in Jan. 2019.
Matthew Garcia, the governor’s chief legal counsel, will serve as Lujan Grisham’s chief of staff on an interim basis, Sackett said.