Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Mother Jones Scorches Gov. Susana

From the Mother Jones article

Mother Jones magazine this morning published a scathing profile of Gov. Susana Martinez that will have the political world here buzzing for days.

Much of it is rehash of stuff New Mexicans already know, including things covered in National Journal's piece on Martinez political advisor Jay McCleskey last year.

But the article uses several behind-the-scenes audio tapes that are not very flattering. The Martinez camp doesn't dispute the authenticity but says the tapes were "stolen."

Clips from the recordings are embedded in the article.

Among the controversial moments on those recordings:

*Matt Kennicott, then a campaign aide talking about former House speaker Ben Luj├ín, telling Martinez  "Somebody told me he's absolutely eloquent in Spanish, but his English? He sounds like a retard."

* During the 2010 campaign, when some thought that cutting teachers' salaries might be inevitable because of the budget crisis, Martinez said in a taped conversation, "During the campaign, we can't say it, I guess, because it's education, but…they already don't work, you know, two and a half months out of the year."

* Talking about how the administration could respond to criticism if Martinez cut teachers' salaries after promising not to, political advisor Jay McCleskey suggested the campaign could post "a YouTube video that no one will ever see where you talk about making everyone feel the pain. And when you win, we say, 'See we said this shit the whole time. What are you guys talking about?'" To which Kennicott responded: "It's on YouTube. C'mon, bitches." [This all is moot of course because teachers' salaries didn't get cut.]

* Discussing the state's Commission on the Status of Women, of which Martinez asks: "What the hell is that? What the hell does a commission on women's cabinet do all day long?"

* Calling her gubernatorial opponent and former Lt. Gov Diane Denish "that little bitch."

Well, if anyone's really shocked by that last one -- a politician calling an opponent a nasty name, I'll provide Kleenex later.

In fact, in a fundraising letter, sent just this morning, Martinez said, "Their `smoking gun'? I referred to Diane Denish using the B-word four years ago in a private conversation with close advisers. I admit it — I've had to fund the cuss jar a few times in my life."

If her Chief of Staff Keith Gardner had a "cuss jar" we  would never have to worry about balancing the budget again. (Sorry Keith.)

In the rest of the letter, Martinez said:

"We’ve come a long way since the days of Bill Richardson, but now liberals in Washington want to undo the progress we’ve made. In the absolute height of desperation, one of the most radically liberal publications in the country is now peddling false, personal attacks against me, using stolen audiotapes from our debate prep sessions four years ago. ...

"But this shows just how far the Left is willing to go to stop reforms in New Mexico. This tabloid is using material from the same people who are under federal indictment and investigation for stealing my personal emails. The same liberals who decry the `War on Women' are more than happy to promote the same line of attack as those who stole my personal underwear order."

That's a slap at The Santa Fe Reporter, who did once report that Martinez received an email receipt from Spanx.

The first Democratic candidate to respond was Lawrence Rael, who said:

"These audio clips reveal a side of Gov. Martinez and her aides that is offensive on so many levels.  Not to mention that she would have to work with Speaker Lujan when she was elected. That she didn’t reprimand Matt Kennicott is inexcusable. But that she then rewarded him with a job as the spokesperson for the Human Services Department (HSD) and a salary of $73,000 is unconscionable. HSD, in fact, oversees several programs that administer mental health services for over 85,000 New Mexicans."

I'm betting there will be much more discussion on this in the near future.

UPDATE 6:24 pm The original version of this mistakenly said last year's Jay McCleskey profile was in The National Review. Actually it was National Journal. It's been corrected in the text. (Thanks, reader Chuck.)

Here's the audio: