The trial of Santa Fe Reporter vs. Governor Susana Martinez (D-101-CV-201302328) is finally underway in Santa Fe District Court. At the core of the issue: did Governor Martinez and her staff retaliate against news outlets not favorable to her by delaying or ignoring their public records requests and requests for comments? The suit alleges that the governor’s office stopped responding to Santa Fe Reporter questions and requests after the paper published excerpts from the governor’s private emails with cabinet officials and campaign members discussing public business. Joey Peters, then a reporter for the SFR, apparently recorded a phone call with Gov. Martinez in which he asked her about the SFR’s problems getting a response.
“With a team of communication directors and public information officers who collectively earn more than $1 million annually, getting information from the Martinez’ administration shouldn’t be a problem, but for many reporters, such access is limited or nonexistent.” – Peter St. Cyr, Santa Fe Reporter
After coming into office promising to be the most transparent and accountable governor in New Mexico history, Susana Martinez’s administration has developed the reputation for closing the door to anyone with a tough question or in-depth follow up to her public relations team’s carefully scripted photo ops and polished press releases. But it’s not for lack of staff to help facilitate that public communication – in fact, taxpayers pay more than a million dollars per year, the Santa Fe Reporter found, for a team of spokespeople and public information officers who ignore the press and public questions. It wasn’t supposed to be this way.
Major Republican candidates across the country have been scrambling to distance themselves from billionaire Republican backer Marcus Hiles after it was revealed that he “slapped, choked and dragged [a woman, who was not his wife] by the hair after a night of drinking that included a stop at Sapphire’s Nightclub, a strip club”
Texas’ new governor, Greg Abbott, released this statement, “At no point in time was Governor Abbott or any member of his staff aware of this deeply disturbing incident. Governor Abbott believes that any violence against women is deplorable, unacceptable and shameful,” then joined other Texas donors in donating more than $700,000 they had taken from Hiles away to domestic violence shelters in Texas. One notable exception to the list of Republican candidates distancing themselves from Hiles and his money is New Mexico’s Susana Martinez. —
State senators, White House advisors and statewide domestic violence victim advocates all called on Martinez to follow suit and donate the relatively small amount of $10,400 her personal campaign received from Hiles to the state’s domestic violence prevention programs.
But Martinez said she couldn’t donate that money because she had already spent it. From the Santa Fe Reporter:
Enrique Knell, then a spokesman for the governor, told the Albuquerque Journal in a March article that shedding thousands in contributions donated by the developer, Marcus Hiles, would not be feasible. On June 3, 2014, Hiles contributed the $10,400 limit to Martinez’ campaign, reports show.
A sharply worded letter from Governor Susana Martinez to the Secretary of Health and Human Services cost New Mexico almost $100 million in funding to build out and run our state’s health exchange, and that has exchange staff scrambling to build a new exchange without any money. Staff of the health exchange (NMHIX) say that there appears to be no process to appeal or reapply and New Mexico appears to be the only state in the country denied funding to complete the build out of the state’s insurance exchange, publicly known as Be Well NM. New Mexico has already received $122.3 million from the federal government ($34.3M in 2011, $18.6M in 2013, $69.4 in 2014) to set up and run the exchange through the end of 2014. In November 2014, states were permitted to apply for additional funds to build out the remaining parts of their state-based exchanges and operate for three full years, beginning in January 2015. From NMHIX:
New Mexico is a hybrid Exchange through 2015 with the SHOP operated by the NMHIX and utilization of the federal platform for individual enrollments.
It’s a story everyone is talking about. First Mother Jones released explosive tapes from inside Susana Martinez’s 2010 campaign. And that story included an allegation from a former staffer that the campaign routinely had investigators working for then-District Attorney Susana Martinez check license plates of vehicles supporting her opponent. In September, the new district attorney, Mark D’Antonio, announced that emails from the Martinez-era were “intentionally destroyed” before he took office. And that seemed like the end until ProgressNowNM identified a backup server in Albuquerque which contained some of those deleted emails.
PROGRESSNOWNM was in the committee room yesterday as the Senate Rules committee held a informational briefing session about the now-infamous Downs Deal and the improper handling of that deal by Governor Susana Martinez and her inner circle. It seems that by now most of the news outlets in the state, and even some outside the state, have run recaps of the process that granted a 25-year, multi-million dollar lease to the Downs at Albuquerque, but if you need a refresher take a look at these articles: Downs Doings (SF Reporter), Perception, reality, and the Downs deal (ABQ Journal), The Man Who Discovered Susana Martinez Could Also Be Her Downfall (National Journal — mostly about Jay McCleskey but still a great insight into the inner workings of the Martinez inner-circle). We recorded the entirety of Monday’s hearing and you can visit our YouTube page to watch all the action for yourself. Using the awesome power of Twitter, we compiled some of the highlights of what happened during the committee hearing yesterday and turned them into a play-by-play below:
Governor Susana Martinez & her consultant Jay McCleskey were both invited to testify at the hearing, neither showed. No Republicans were present in the committee when it began so Senate Rules was operating as a sub-committee. (Dan Mourning, the State Fair Manager, and Hector Balderas, the State Auditor, were also invited but did not attend.)
Senate Rules Committee starting hearing on NM State Fair troubles.
Santa Fe’s mayoral race is shaping up to be one of the most hotly contested in 2014. Our November poll showed Santa Feans fired up for candidates who were committed to protecting the city’s limited clean water, stand up for labor rights and stand by the city’s minimum wage. Fast forward to January and City Councilor Patti Bushee faced off with former-Democratic Party Chairman Javier Gonzales in a standing-room-only crowd at the Santa Fe University of Art & Design for the ProgressNowNM/Santa Fe Reporter 2014 Mayoral Debate. The third candidate on the ballot, councilor Bill Dimas was invited but declined in all candidate forums during this election. In a new twist to city debates, candidates were given fifteen minutes to ask each other a series of questions. As the SF Reporter’s Joey Peters noted, the debate got a little heated as moderators Julie Ann Grimm (@SantaFeReporter) and Julia Goldberg (@votergirl) and the candidates touched on marijuana legalization, municipal power proposals and clean energy for the City Different.