Diego Arencon is incompetent and should be immediately removed from his position as deputy chief of staff for Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham.
In a KRQE, Larry Barker investigation, Arencon shows the entire world why political hacks should not be rewarded with positions that require safe stewardship of taxpayer funds. You can watch the entire report:
Arencon has no educational background to be deputy chief of staff, nor does he have the experience and knowledge to control millions of taxpayer dollars. But that is exactly what his friend, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, appointed him to do. Arencon and Grisham go way back to her early days in politics. It was during that time when Arencon, president of the local Albuquerque Fire Union, tethered his future to Grisham’s political career. He never wavered in his support for Grisham and in return Grisham gave him a cozy job as her deputy chief of staff. A job that Barker’s report clearly shows he is not qualified for.
Everyone should watch this report and call Governor Grisham and demand that she holds Arencon accountable for losing our money and remove him from his position. I am sure she can find him another cozy place in state government where his incompetence will not cause the taxpayers to lose millions.
Some of the highlights of Barkers’ investigation include:
Arencon was the coordinator of New Mexico’s search for PPE (protective equipment). Arencon stated that he literally had only hours to make decisions to bring PPE home (to New Mexico) to make people safe. Hours? Really? A person well versed in procurement issues would know that you don’t rush this, that if you do the odds that you will be the victim of fraud and waste rise dramatically. Of course, Arencon has no background in this position so he was easily fooled.
In March, at the beginning of the pandemic, Arencon got an unsolicited phone call from a company in Santa Fe called Bionet. Unsolicited. You know those calls and emails promising all sorts of things that are all a scam. Right, that’s the company Arencon decided to spend millions of our dollars with.
Barker: “Had you ever heard of Bionet before?”
Arencon: “No, never.”
Barker: “So what you knew about the company (Bionet), was what they (Bionet) told you?”
Arencon: “That is correct.”
Bionet has no showroom, no warehouse, no storefront and no listed phone number. Yet Arecnon believed them when they told him they could deliver ten million face masks every week. I hope that Arecon never receives the Nigerian prince email. You know the one that says he has $50 million and he will give you a share for helping him. Arencon was so easily duped by Bionet, wasting millions of our dollars, that he would probably jump at the Nigerian prince story.
Barker: “You really knew virtually nothing about Bionet, so how did they end up with nearly $8 million dollars in state purchase orders?”
Arencon: “That’s a great question.”
Yes Diego, it is a great question and one that is easily answered. You blew it. Arencon wasted millions of taxpayer dollars because he violated state rules and regulations. Arencon does not have the knowledge nor background to steward millions of hard-earned New Mexico tax dollars. We learned this the hard way.
There is a lot to digest in this ten-minute Larry Barker investigation. Don’t watch it on a full stomach because it will make you vomit all over your TV screen. The blatant violation of rules, the stupidity by which Arencon acted, the lost money, it’s all enough for most New Mexicans to wonder who is in charge in Santa Fe? Well Governor Grisham, who is in charge? She hasn’t removed Arencon, he is still her deputy chief of staff. I wonder how many business owners in New Mexico, would keep on the payroll, an employee who clearly violated rules and lost the company millions.
Oh, but this is government and political friendships trump all. Grisham and Arencon are tethered at the hip. I doubt she does anything to him. You know why she won’t get rid of him? Because it wasn’t her money. If Arencon had gone into Grisham’s bank account and squandered most of it, I am sure she would kick him out. But that isn’t how it works in government. Sadly, I will bet that Arencon continues making his six-figure state government salary (that you and I pay for) and Grisham either ignores the investigations or minimizes them into nothing.
The FBI, New Mexico Attorney General, State Auditor have all opened investigations into Arencon’s actions with Bionet. Everyone is looking at this colossal wasting of our money. As Barker said in his report, Arencon was duped. But he was only duped because he violated the safeguards that are in place. Grisham should hold Arencon accountable and remove him from his position and fill it with someone who is qualified.
State Auditor Brian Colon and the Legislative Finance Committee has released instructions to all government agencies of the risks related to Emergency Procurements. It’s too late for Arencon and our millions, but hopefully it will stop other government agencies from being “duped”.