Roundhouse Nepotism: COVID Funds used to hire High School Student related to Governor’s Deputy Chief of Staff?

Governor’s Office did not confirm or deny if high school student is daughter of Diego Arencon, the Governor’s close staffer and political ally of many years.

After six weeks of ignored inquiries and delayed responses to Inspection of Public Records Act requests, The Candle finally received public documents and a reluctant response from Governor Lujan Grisham’s communications staff which, taken together, confirms that an individual with the same address and last name as Diego Arencon, the governor’s deputy chief of staff, was handed one of dozens of “exempt” work-at-home jobs, along with state supplied computer equipment, funded by federal COVID funds.

The Candle has pushed for further clarification regarding the relationship of the two Arencons, as well as whether there are other politically connected individuals who were hired with the COVID related funding.

Diego Arencon’s salary is $163,000 a year, according to a May 2022 state payroll record.

The high school student is paid an annualized salary of $41,600, from federal COVID funds.

There are more than 5,000 state employees, many who provided front-line COVID related service, who make less than the rate the high school student is being paid.

There are also tens of thousands of workers living and working in New Mexico making less than the $20/hour rate paid to the high school student.

The Governor’s deputy communications director, Maddy Hayden, provided a limited response to questions from The Candle yesterday, but she has not acknowledged whether or not the student who was hired July 5, 2021, by the New Mexico Department of Finance and Administration, is the daughter of Mr. Arencon.

According to preliminary accounts from the Governor’s office the student has made approximately $16,300 so far working from home, part-time, while she was a student.

This is a developing story and The Candle will publish the full statement from the Governor’s office as soon as there is a response to the follow-up questions sent yesterday to Hayden.

The Candle will also be reporting on the attempt by the Governor’s staff to slow down our investigation of the hiring process used for filling the jobs associated with the federal funds.