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Thursday, November 27, 2014

Gov. takes heat over recordings

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By Daily Lobo file photo / New Mexico Daily Lobo

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez introduced Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry at the re-election announcement in October 2013.

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Washington-based online news outlet Mother Jones released audio Wednesday morning of Gov. Susana Martinez speaking with her aides during her gubernatorial campaign in 2010, and her comments have drawn criticism.

In one recording on Mother Jones’ website, Martinez says she could not say that teachers, who work during school years, earn salaries at the same rate as other professions.

“During the campaign we can’t say it, I guess, because it’s education, but I keep going back to that keeping the teachers from feeling the pain when they already don’t work, you know, two and a half months out of the year, three months out of the year, but earn salaries at the same rate people who do work 12 months a year,” she said.

The article claims the aides were Matt Kennicott, Martinez’s then-deputy campaign manager, and Jay McCleskey.

National Education Association-New Mexico President Betty Patterson said in a press release that most educators don’t work nine months out of the year.

“Very few teachers work only nine months, very few get paid as if they worked twelve months,” Patterson said. “Most teachers use the summer for professional development, to learn new curriculum and to write curriculum for their districts … During the nine months teachers work directly with students, we put in endless hours beyond what is paid or expected.”

In a second recording, Martinez says a woman from the New Mexico Commission on the Status of Women came to speak with her. Martinez says she wasn’t aware of the function of the commission.

“I just don’t know what they do — I mean, I understand that we have 10 cabinet positions, more than the federal government, but some of them seem to be in name only,” she says. “I don’t get what in the hell does a commission of women’s cabinet do all day long?”

Chris Sanchez, a spokesman for Martinez, said the material Mother Jones posted was stolen. Mother Jones did not reveal its sources in the story.

“Today, an extreme left-wing blog posted four-year-old material from private conversations undoubtedly sent to them by individuals or their allies who are either under federal indictment, or have had their homes raided by the FBI for their role in stealing or distributing Governor Susana Martinez’s email,” Sanchez said in a statement. “That the national Left is trying to smear the first Hispanic woman governor in American history because they view her as a threat is about as surprising as the National Enquirer reporting that Elvis is still alive”

In other recordings, Martinez and her aides also spoke about other campaign strategies regarding education and Rep. Ben Luján. Martinez also used the word “bitch” in response to someone telling her that someone believed Martinez “wasn’t being straight with her.” Her aides also used words such as “retard” and “fuck.”

Sanchez said the Martinez did use foul language, but she will continue her work as governor.

“Yes, the Governor used salty language in a private conversation four years ago with close advisers and will pay the appropriate penalty to the cuss jar,” he said. “Governor Martinez will not be distracted by cheap political attacks and will remain focused on continuing to move New Mexico forward.”

Several organizations and politicians have responded to the Mother Jones article, including the Democratic Party of New Mexico.

“The crass, rude and hate filled comments from the Governor, Jay McCleskey and her staff indicate the dislike and contempt they feel for all New Mexicans and even fellow Republicans,” said DPNM Chairman Sam Bregman in a press release.

Democratic Sen. Howie Morales, a candidate in the gubernatorial race, said in a statement that Martinez’s comments about teachers and her comments “criticizing the need for a Commission on the Status of Woman in New Mexico,” was offensive.

“Our Governor has sent a strong message about how she really feels about the people of this State,” Morales said. “We need to stand up and send her a strong message that this is not the kind of ‘leadership’ we need in New Mexico.”