Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D., N.M.) was spotted dancing and drinking during a two-day trip to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to assess the infrastructure and recovery process in response to Hurricane Maria.
Lujan Grisham, who is running for governor in New Mexico, joined House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif) and about a dozen other Democrats to ensure the islands "have the money needed to not just recover," but to "rebuild better than before," according to the St. John Source.
After touring the islands, Lujan Grisham wrote on Twitter, "It’s clear after seeing the landscape in-person that more work must be done to come together to find solutions that lift up the island’s residents’ and economy."
Our fellow Americans in #PuertoRico & the #USVI have been resilient and optimistic in the face of disaster. But it’s clear after seeing the landscape in-person that more work must be done to come together to find solutions that lift up the island’s residents’ and economy. /2
— MichelleLujanGrisham (@RepLujanGrisham) July 28, 2018
Lujan Grisham drew attention to the need for further action on the islands, but what she didn't mention was her social activities of dancing and drinking at the Chandelier Bar, a ritzy hotel bar within the El San Juan Hotel. The hotel, where most of the delegation stayed, is described on the website as being "synonymous with Puerto Rican luxury hospitality."
It is unclear exactly what Lujan Grisham and her colleagues paid to stay at the hotel, but during the weekend, room prices range from $300 to just under a $1,000 per night, according to the website. The hotel, which is part of the Curio Collection by Hilton, includes many luxury amenities like tennis courts, multiple pools, and a spa.
In the pictures obtained from a tracker, Lujan Grisham is seen drinking with Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D., N.Y.) on at least one occasion at the Chandelier Bar. She is also seen dancing with an unidentified man at the hotel.
In addition to the pictures showing the group at the Chandelier Bar, the tracker said the Democratic delegation went to Entrevinos, a wine bar that doubles as a restaurant, near the hotel for dinner. It is unclear whether each member of Congress paid for their own meals or if they were expensed on the taxpayers' dime.
Lujan Grisham's office responded to a request for comment on the trip's expenses by turning the attention on her gubernatorial opponent, Rep. Steve Pearce (R., N.M.), and the "failed Republican Party."
"It’s disgusting that Steve Pearce is attacking a Hispanic woman for working to help Latino populations devastated by his failed Republican Party in Congress and Donald Trump," spokesman James Hallinan said, "and even worse that Pearce is resorting to smearing Hispanic members of congress rather than putting forth solutions to help our fellow Americans recover from a devastating natural disaster."
The Republican Party of New Mexico sent out a tweet last Friday slamming Lujan Grisham for being a "no show" at the Coalition of Educational Leaders meeting, the Independent Community Banker’s forum, and the Independent Petroleum Association forum. Hallinan, Lujan Grisham's newly minted spokesperson, responded on Twitter by saying ‘Just WOW…,' evidently offended by the critique. The reason the congresswoman was absent, he said, was because she was "meeting w/ first responders & disaster recovery officials to find solutions 4 hurricane victims."
"Shameful. Hope you take this down immediately," Hallinan tweeted.
Just WOW… @RepLujanGrisham is on a bipartisan Congressional Delegation mission in #PuertoRico meeting w/ first responders & disaster recovery officials to find solutions 4 hurricane victims. Shameful. Hope you take this down immediately #nmpol #nmleg @RepStevePearce @Pearce4NM https://t.co/X4cnFXzDqI
— James Hallinan (@JamesHallinan) July 27, 2018
He also did not mention in his tweet that his boss was drinking and dancing at a luxury hotel.
Pelosi and her Democratic colleagues toured Puerto Rico to determine what needs haven't been met since the Category 4 storm hit the island more than 10 months ago. The storm caused an estimated $100 billion in damage to the territory.
"There is a contract with the federal government and people that was not fully honored, in my view," Pelosi said. "We need perhaps in our legislating, in our advocacy, to find a way to speed things up, to cut red tape, to reduce bureaucratic obstacles … Time is the most valuable commodity. It makes a big difference in people’s lives."
UPDATE 1:59 P.M.: This piece has been updated with comment from Lujan Grisham's spokesperson.