Yesterday’s explosive audio tapes of Susana Martinez and her staff making light of New Mexico’s language heritage and crafting a plan to hide their position on teacher pay made big news across the country. But this isn’t the first time internal conversations have given voters a look inside Martinez’s inner circle. Here’s a quick recap:
- In January 2011, public records requests uncovered administration emails showing the new administration letting industry lobbyists write an executive order limiting regulation of the industry. [Read More]
- In Aug. 2012, Martinez’s campaign lawyer and inner circle advisor Pat Rogers was forced to resign his high paying attorney/lobbyist job after he sent a racist email containing a rant against the state’s Native American community and suggesting that meeting with Native people was disrespectful to the memory of noted Indian-killer Col. Geo. Armstrong Custer. [Read More]
- Throughout 2012, various batches of emails between administration staffers surfaced showing a deliberate attempt to create a network of secret “non-public” emails where state business was conducted out of the public eye. Various email accounts, including many set up under the domain of the governor’s SuperPAC, SusanaPAC, showed the governor’s personal staff directing cabinet officials to take official actions. [Read More]
- In Sept. 2012, Keith Gardner, Martinez’s chief-of-staff, came under fire after a secret recording of a conversation with a Roswell man was released. Gardner, a Roswell native, blasted his community saying leaving was the best decision he ever made and calling the former Democratic senate president pro tem a “a c**ksucking son of a b*tch.” [Read More]
- In Oct. 2012, campaign emails between staff were leaked by a former campaign staffer showing lobbyists and donors asking for special access to the administration for their special interests and chronicled administration staffers quarterbacking the awarding of the Downs racino contract to campaign donors. [Read More]
- In May, 2013, former Martinez-appointee Rick May went public with documents outlining the administration’s plan to limit one of the state’s largest public investment agencies in a way that favored private banks and investors. “Don’t listen to what they say. Watch what they do,” May told the SF Reporter. [Read More]
- On April 2, 2014, a leaked administration email showed the administration directing public records staff to stonewall requests for information from elected legislators and their staff, instead sending those requests through back channels to the governor’s chief of staff for review. [Read More]
- Now, in April 2014, tapes of a debate preparation session from the 2010 campaign surface showing Martinez and key staffers belittling the state’s beloved Democratic speaker of the house and an Hispanic business group, planning to undermine women’s job programs and teacher pay. [Read More]
Despite a promise to be one of the most transparent administrations in state history, Martinez has been anything but. The administration has repeatedly rewritten and reinterpreted the rules on public records and transparency to give them greater control, leading to lawsuits and tens-of-thousands of taxpayer dollars spent to oppose transparency. Here are just a few:
- September 2013: The Santa Fe Reporter sues Governor Martinez for public records act violations after they refuse to respond to SFR requests for information.
- October 2013: The administration’s former NMFA director filed suit against the administration for failing to release public records he requested in April. [Read More]
- December 2013: The Associated Press sues Governor Martinez for refusing to release her public travel records.
If the leaks we’ve seen so far are any indication of the information the administration is hiding, there’s no wonder they are spending big bucks and lots of time to fight public records requests like these. But without a true transparency commitment from the administration, the public will continue to rely on leaks and whistleblowers for an insider’s look behind the closed doors on the Fourth (and Fifth) floor of the Roundhouse.