On January 1st, Susana Martinez celebrates her inauguration for another term as governor of the Land of Enchantment.
But as she and her political operatives (hi, Jay!) are making promoting Susana Martinez as the Republican Party’s next Sarah Palin, politicos outside their tightly controlled circle define her and her accomplishments as “Petty. Vindictive. Weak on Policy.”
Which is true and will Susana 2.0 be any different than her first four years implementing “bold change” ? You be the judge.
Top 10 Scandals & Themes Defining Susana Martinez’s First Term as Governor
Here are our picks for the Top 10 stories and themes that defined Susana Martinez’s first term as New Mexico’s governor.
Say it ain’t so!
In April 2014, Mother Jones magazine published audio tapes of then candidate Susana Martinez and her staff calling now deceased Speaker Ben Lujan a “f*cking retard” for speaking with a Spanish accent, and demeaning women, Hispanic business advocates, Democrats and others.
In a trend that would come to define the first Martinez administration, the tapes were recorded and released by a disgruntled former staffer.
“Can I shred?” “Yes!! Thanks!!”
During the summer leading to the 2014 election, Dona Ana County’s new district attorney, Mark D’Antonio, announced that years of emails from Susana Martinez and Amy Orlando’s terms as district attorney had been “intentionally deleted,” allowing their administrations to avoid public records requests for the governor’s old emails.
In one email exchange, a staffer asked Amy Orlando if she should shred papers apparently used to research a Martinez campaign ad. “Yes!! Thanks!!” was Orlando’s response.
ProgressNowNM later released a partial archive of the emails found on a backup server in Albuquerque. This revelation led the Attorney General’s Office to seize the server and open an investigation that is still pending.
“Anti-Immigrant New Mexico Governor Reveals Her Grandparents Were Undocumented Immigrants”
We lifted that headline straight from ThinkProgress because it sums up the governor’s first big PR blunder, way back in 2011.
Here’s how TP summed it up:
“New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez (R) has long been known for her vitriolic rhetoric against undocumented immigrants. Just this week, she slammed presidential contender Rick Perry (R-TX) for once supporting the DREAM Act and comprehensive immigration reform… But on Wednesday, Martinez surprised many when she admitted that her own grandparents were among those “people…who violated the law” when they came to the U.S. as undocumented immigrants.”
Governor’s Campaign Staff Used Police Resources to Spy on Opponents
After a partial archive of supposedly-deleted emails were discovered by ProgressNowNM, the Santa Fe Reporter disclosed that those their review of them found “Insiders and hidden emails indicate Martinez campaign used public resources on opposition in 2010.”
Police Officer: ‘Governor’s Attorney Ordered Me to Spy on Democrat’
In July 2013, ProgressNowNM first reported that a State Police officer told superiors in a memo that he was ordered by the governor’s general counsel to surreptitiously record a conversation with a Democratic District Attorney running the DA’s office Martinez left to serve as governor.
The memo, obtained by public records request and published by ProgressNowNM, says the officer got cold feet and reported the plan to a supervisor. The officer reports that he was directed to record a meeting with the new district attorney investigating a case of election fraud in Sunland Park. It was widely believed that the evidence used by Martinez’s protege, Amy Orlando, to indict the defendants was shaky and might lead the new DA to reconsider the case.
The State Police authenticated the memo but did not announce any action taken to investigate the claim.
After Denouncing the “Extravagance” of the State Jet, Martinez Calls Up the State Police Helicopter for a Ride to GOP Fundraiser
After running on a promise to sell the state jet – a symbol of excess in government Martinez said during her campaign – Susana Martinez summoned a multi-million dollar State Police helicopter to Santa Fe to shuttle her to a plane waiting to take her to a Republican fundraiser in Texas.
Even after the normally sympathetic Albuquerque Journal said she had been wrong and the attorney general encouraged her to reimburse taxpayers for the trip, she refused saying the use of the expensive public transport to expedite her trip to a Republican fundraiser was a good use of taxpayer dollars.
Want New Rules? Write ‘em Yourself
Just weeks into her first term, emails obtained by public record request showed that Martinez’ office staff let lobbyists for the dairy industry write a new executive order undoing Richardson-era environmental regulations cutting down on dairy pollution that threatened to pollute diminishing groundwater supplies.
The state Supreme Court later quashed the insider effort to rewrite the rules without public transparency.
Spanx and Other Secrets
A former campaign manager for Susana Martinez made big news in 2011 when he released (anonymously at the time) a cache of emails from the campaign’s email servers.
The emails showed that Martinez staffers used campaign emails to circumvent public records requests and communicate with lobbyists and friends seeking to influence state contracts for the Downs racino lease, to privatize the state lottery or set up trips and meetings for the governor’s staff with lobbyists and state contractors. The emails also contained a number of personal emails from Susana Martinez, including an order for Spanx underwear.
The manager was later outed by the FBI and convicted of illegally intercepting the communications.
“Fraud, fraud everywhere!”
Susana Martinez’s prosecutorial-style took center stage in 2013 when her administration suddenly announced that it was canceling dozens of behavioral health service contracts with New Mexico companies and turning them all over to Arizona firms.
The reason? A secret audit managed by the Martinez administration allegedly found massive fraud among highly reputable companies. With no way to challenge a secret audit, the companies packed up and left thousands of patients without care. Patients and advocates cried foul, even more so after it was discovered that Martinez’s administration had met with at least one Arizona provider before the secret audit was even concluded.
So far, the outgoing attorney general has cleared a number of providers of any criminal wrongdoing and the administration has failed to provide any evidence to back up it’s claims. But while the AG investigation continues into others, New Mexico taxpayers are paying Arizona companies two and three times what we paid local providers for these same services.
What’s number 10? You decide…
Weigh in on Facebook and tell us what other story most helped to define Susana Martinez’s first four years in office.
Some honorable mentions deserving a second look include:
- Martinez’s cabinet official responsible for addressing poverty and hunger said there was “No evidence of hunger in New Mexico.” New Mexico is ranked 50th in the nation for child well-being and hunger.
- “No More Thank God for Mississippi!” – Despite the governor’s almost weekly photo ops with children and a promise to put children first, child well-being dropped to last in the country after two years of Susana Martinez’s policies.
- Governor Martinez commits voter fraud by signing an absentee ballot application for another person. Sec. of State Dianna Duran hides the evidence.
- Dirty politics pays big. Susana Martinez and her political operatives have taken dirty politics to a new level, and cashed in handsomely while doing it. The Santa Fe Reporter found that Jay McCleskey and companies associated with him and his wife raked in more than $1.9 million in one 19-day reporting period in the 2014 elections. That’s in addition to more than $133,000 paid to them by national GOP outfits.
Share the list online and help us close out this list before we get started on a new one for the next four years.