The Martinez administration just can’t seem to stop using emails to get themselves in trouble.
Just after taking office, the governor’s off-the-record email system (a cabinet official says she was told to obtain a private email to communicate to avoid public records requests) became public and her chief of staff was caught on tape saying
“I never—shit, I never use my state email because it is all done on different stuff ’cause I don’t want to go to court or jail.”
Other emails showed her campaign manager directing state employees to compile lists of people from state databases he, presumably, wanted to use of political purposes.
Now the Santa Fe Reporter comes with a new story showing that the state’s top official responsible for helping New Mexicans rise from hunger and poverty thought Susana Martinez wasn’t conservative enough (!) and even joked about deleting laws that help hungry people get food stamps and actively opposed enrolling the uninsured in health care.
From today’s Santa Fe Reporter:
Why resign from the job of your dreams?
“Mainly the reason is because this is a very blue state, and mainly I’m a red girl,” she tells SFR in an interview this week.
For Sidone Squier, Martinez’s former Secretary of Human Services, it boiled down to the governor’s decision to expand Medicaid (health care for the poor) in one of the poorest and uninsured states in the country:
Email messages obtained by SFR through a request to HSD under the Inspection of Public Records Act illustrate her political frustrations during her tenure in New Mexico.
In an April 2012 email, Matt Kennicott, spokesman for the department, wrote to Squier that Gov. Susana Martinez was “too afraid” to speak out against the federal expansion of Medicaid through President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Medicaid subsidizes medical insurance with federal taxpayer money for individuals living up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level (that’s almost $16,000 in annual salary for a single person).
“Why Matt?” replied Squier. “Why is the [governor’s office] so weak on this issue?”
“It all boils down to polling and not saying something that will upset the approval numbers,” Kennicott wrote back.
And then there is this interaction about how they might “accidentally delete” a law that requires the state to tell poor residents how they can apply for food stamps if they are hungry:
In another 2012 email exchange obtained by SFR, Kennicott emailed Squier about a memorandum of understanding between HSD and the state’s Taxation and Revenue Department that allows information about SNAP, the federal Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program commonly known as food stamps, to be sent to New Mexicans receiving a tax refund.
“Do we really have to do this?” Squier asked. Acting Director of HSD’s Income Support Division Ted Roth suggested that HSD attempt to delete by “accident” the statutory language that creates that “unfunded mandate”—which didn’t result in “any surge in SNAP applications.”
No surprise, really, coming from the woman who infamously said there was “no evidence of hunger in New Mexico.”
But these are the people Governor Martinez (and her political operatives) picked to run huge state agencies overseeing critical public programs. Imagine the outrage up front had Squier told senators in her confirmation that she wanted to eliminate laws helping hungry people get food assistance or shrink, not expand, health care for our poorest children whose parents are too poor to see a doctor when they are sick.
Click over for the entire story at the SF Reporter. It’s worth the read.