Above: Former Speaker Brian Egolf, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, and Acting Secretary of Economic Development Department, Mark Roper.
While investors sue the Egolfs for fraud, there is another story that involves the use of state government programs and non-profit resources for Kelly Egolf’s juice business.
On Monday, a group of well-heeled investors filed a lawsuit claiming former Speaker Brian Egolf and his wife, Kelly Egolf, through their company, defrauded them of about $3 million.
In July of 2022, acting on a tip from an inside source at a state agency, The Candle sent an Inspection of Public Records Act request to the New Mexico Economic Development Department (NMEDD) for a copy of all documents related to New Mexico Fresh Foods, LLC (NM Fresh Foods) and its founder Kelly Egolf.
The Candle learned of rumors that the NM Fresh Foods was receiving special treatment by officials in the state’s major economic development agency.
Shortly after that request was made of NMEDD, The Candle made a similar request for information from the Office of Michelle Lujan Grisham.
The Candle made additional IPRA requests over the last eighteen months.
Responses to the IPRA’s provided thousands of pages of documents which, when sorted through, reveal a pattern of privilege provided to the Egolf’s and their food processing venture.
Mark Roper, currently the Governor’s Acting Cabinet Secretary for Economic Development Department, was a key figure in the emails The Candle received regarding the LEDA grant application of the Egolf company.
Over the last eighteen months, including as recently as this morning, The Candle requested to speak with the NMEDD officials responsible for preparing the documentation and approval of a $750,000 LEDA (Local Economic Development Act) grant and tens of thousands of dollars of state money under the state’s Job Training Incentive Program.
NMED’s spokesman has repeatedly told The Candle that he was unable to grant our requests to speak with those officials.
The documents also revealed a $375,000 loan the Egolf company received from the Santa Fe Community Foundation.
In December, after learning from an NMEDD employee that NM Fresh Foods had missed filing its required quarterly employee development report with the state agency, The Candle emailed the head of the Santa Fe Community Foundation several questions about the loan, including if his organization had received any repayment of the loan made to the Egolf company.
The Foundation was silent.
This morning The Candle sent another email asking the same questions.
Again, no response at this time.
Tomorrow, The Candle will be publishing a detailed story with copies of internal memos, emails, communications with the Governor’s chief of staff and other senior officials in state government, and references to the Speaker’s concerns about his wife’s business application for a state economic grant of at $750,000.