Santa Fe – Governor Susana Martinez is on track to be one of New Mexico’s most traveled governors, a new report from ProgressNow New Mexico finds.
Though the governor’s administration has notoriously refused to provide travel records (stories here, here, here, here and here) the chief executive or her security detail, a review of news reports, campaign event notices, and meeting announcements from across the country provide a look at the busy flying schedule for Martinez and the cost to taxpayers for that travel.
Earlier this week, Governor Martinez’s administration went to court to say she is exempt from public records requests for her taxpayer-funded travel, including her contentious national fundraising trips.
According to Steve Terrell of the Santa Fe New Mexican:
The Martinez administration contends court enforcement of the state Inspection of Public Records Act to make the governor and state agencies turn over travel records would violate the U.S. Constitution.
Legal documents filed Monday in state District Court by lawyers representing Gov. Susana Martinez and some state agencies say the public records law is “pre-empted” by the Supremacy Clause in the U.S. Constitution — and that the records being sought by The Associated Press would require a warrant under federal law.
The documents are in response to two lawsuits filed in December by the AP, which has been trying to get public records related to Martinez’s travels and work schedule, cellphone calls and expenses of the police officers who travel with her. The suits claim Martinez and the agencies violated the state open records law in denying the public records requests.
When it comes to transparency, Governor Martinez went around the legislature and required the salaries of every state employee to be posted online but she has repeatedly exempted herself from IPRA regarding her own office. Earlier this week it was revealed that departments are required to clear certain public records requests through the governor’s office before release.
Associated Press: Martinez finds new spot to post workers’ salaries (Jun. 2012)
As the Associated Press and other media outlets pursue her travel records through courts, ProgressNow New Mexico had documented more than $27,000 in salary payments provided to Martinez during days she was on GOP and fundraising trips.
According to the data compiled by ProgressNowNM:
- Martinez has been out of state all or part of at least 135 days since taking office in 2011.
- Martinez was gone at least 62 days – two full months – during 2013 alone.
- Her out-of-state travel has increased steadily year-over-year as her national profile expands. Martinez only reported traveling 28 days in 2011. By 2013 her out-of-state travel had more than doubled.
- Martinez logged more than 59,000 air miles in 2013 landing in 14 states and two countries.
- 66% of all Martinez out-of-state travel – 75% in 2013 – included unofficial (political) events.
- Taxpayers have paid Martinez $39,780 in salary fordaysshehasbeenout of state. Under New Mexico law, she is not governor when not in state.
- Martinez has taken home at least $27,123 in salary for days she was out of state on personal political business.
View our interactive map showing Governor Martinez’s travel since 2011. It’s online here:
Martinez campaigned on a promise to bring bold change to New Mexico, which included the selling of a state jet she highlighted as an example of executive excess in government. Similarly, Republicans were quick to criticize Democratic Governor Bill Richardson for his travels.
“You have to ask how critical are these issues to him if he chooses to leave the state to campaign for president rather than oversee his agenda for New Mexico,” Senate Minority Whip Leonard Lee Rawson told the Albuquerque Tribune in 2007, speaking of then-Governor Richardson.
News archives show that former Republican Governor Gary Johnson was criticized for being the most traveled first-term governor, racking up 67 out-of-state days in the busiest year of his first term. By comparison, former Governor Bill Richardson racked up 43 days in the first 7 months of 2004, a similar track as Martinez, during his first term (no reports of his final travel days were available in archives).
New Mexico’s governor is given a salary of $110,000 per year, or $301.37 per day. But New Mexico governors are not governor when they travel out of state.
“If I go to Texas, I’m not the governor anymore,” Martinez said…
Under the New Mexico Constitution, the lieutenant governor is acting governor when the real governor is “absent from the state.” Serving as acting governor comes with all the powers of the office and an extra $250 in pay for each day in the position….
Lt. Gov not always told of Martinez’s travels – Thom Cole, ABQ Journal, Nov. 30, 2011
“In the governor’s absence, New Mexico has fallen to the bottom of more lists than I can count on both hands,” says Patrick Davis of ProgressNowNM. “About the only thing to increase has been unemployment, poverty and the governor’s campaign bank account. The Republican party clearly needs some help with its image, but it’s time she park the jet and spend some time tending to New Mexican problems instead of Republican ones.”
“Taxpayers should not subsidize any politician’s political fundraising, no matter what party they represent,” adds Davis. “Martinez should set an example by returning taxpayer dollars that pay for her political junkets and our legislature should take a serious look making that policy permanent.”
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Read the list of all travel here: Martinez Travel Report