MLG Rewards Her Inner Circle of Employees Once Again With Pay Raises of $10,000 to $70,000

Sometime after her re-election in November of 2022, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham apparently decided her inner circle needed a boost in pay ranging from 10% to more than 50%.

While one raise was for just under $10,000/year, there were at least eight raises in excess of $25,000/year – with a few more at $37,000/year to more than $72,000/year.

These increases include a $72,524 increase in pay to Daniel Schlegel, whom she promoted as her chief of staff … but this is not the first big pay increase for Schlegel or others in the Governor’s office.

The Candle reported a year ago that the Governor boosted Schlegel’s pay as Director of Strategic Planning and Initiatives by about 16% (from $93,600 to $108,150) – In this round of raises, she also provided at least seven additional employees of her fourth floor office with double digit percentage raises as high as 32%.

This year at least 16 members of her executive staff are being rewarded with raises of 10% to 50% before the state employees get their 6% raises in July – which means these highly paid staffers, loyal to the Governor, will also get another 6% increase, giving these favored employees another $4,500/year to $11,100/year.

To put this in perspective, the amounts in the table below (researched from the New Mexico Sunshine Portal) reveals that most of these favored employees’ individual raises (combined with their 6% increase in July) come close to the annual compensation of many direct care workers the state funds for the delivery of home care for New Mexico residents who are developmentally challenged.

More to come.

Name Position Annualized Pay as of October 2022 Annualized Pay as of February or March 2023 Dollar Amount of Raise % Raise
Holly AgajanianGeneral Counsel$135,908$150,000$14,09110%
Diego Arencon Deputy Chief of Staff $146,781$175,000$28,21819%
Caroline Buerkle Director of Cabinet Affairs $146,781$175,000$28,21819%
Teresa Casados Chief Operating Officer$158,758$185,000$26,24116%
Gina DeBlassie Executive Policy Advisor$114,400$135,000$20,60018%
Kyle DuffyAssociate General Counsel$101,764$120,000$18,23617%
Donicia Herrera Legal Assistant III$65,236$75,000$9,76314%
Vanessa Kennedy Administrative Assistant II$86,079$105,000$18,92021%
Courtney Kerster Senior Advisor$133,900$175,000$41,10030%
Sheila Nelson Administrative Assistant II$56,537$85,000$28,46250%
Mariana Padilla Cabinet Director$133,900$171,750$37,85028%
Jeremy John Romero Special Director$117,832$130,000$12,16810%
Matt Ruybal Constituent Services Director$96,408$120,000$23,59224%
Daniel Schlegel Dir. Of Strategic Plan & Initiative – Promoted to Chief of Staff$112,476$185,000$72,52464%
Anna Serrano Executive Assistant$62,129$75,000$12,87020%
Amy Whitfield Special Director$114,163$135,000$20,83618%