Ad watch: Webber targets Martinez’s ties to Kochs in new TV spot

Gov. Susana Martinez’s advertisement tying together the state budget, a jet and schoolbooks begins with an inaccurate claim.

“When I took office, we had the largest deficit in history,” says Martinez, a Republican who is seeking re-election this year, in a television ad that began airing this month.

Not so. State senators of both parties say New Mexico had no budget deficit, something that has been true through its 102 years of statehood.

“Her statement is grossly inaccurate,” said state Sen. Carlos Cisneros, D-Questa, a member of the Senate Finance Committee. “New Mexico cannot have deficits by virtue of its constitution. The budget was balanced when she took office. Any other claim is smoke and mirrors.”

Sen. Steve Neville, R-Aztec, also said the governor’s ad about inheriting a deficit is not correct, though his criticism of it was comparatively mild.

“I think I would have chosen different words,” said Neville, who also serves on the Senate Finance Committee.

After the national recession began in 2008, Neville said, the Legislature and then-Gov. Bill Richardson had to reduce spending to offset steep declines in revenue.

These cutbacks were made for two years before Martinez became governor in January 2011. Neville said the spending reductions between 2009 and early 2011 cut the total amount of the state budget by about $1 billion.

When Martinez’s term began, legislators proposed a budget with various cuts to make sure there would be no deficit when the next fiscal year began in July 2011. Martinez’s own budget proposal ended up being similar to the spending plan submitted to her by legislators.

“If you really go back and look at her first term, she took the LFC [Legislative Finance Committee] budget virtually verbatim,” said Sen. John Arthur Smith, a conservative Democrat from Deming, who has a friendly working relationship with Martinez.

The Legislature approved a balanced, $5.4 billion budget in 2011. Martinez then made line-item vetoes totaling about $4 million.

Until her ad this month, Martinez and her political strategists always had been careful to say that she closed “the largest structural deficit” in state history. A structural deficit is government lexicon meaning that, unless cuts are made, a budget will not be balanced.

The term “structural deficit,” foreign to most taxpayers and TV viewers, did not end up in the ad. Instead, Martinez simply said she inherited a budget deficit.

Sen. Howie Morales, D-Silver City, a Finance Committee member, has been sparring with Martinez since 2012 over her statements about the budget.

“The ad continues the pattern of this governor to get a message out there that simply isn’t true,” said Morales, one of five Democrats competing for the gubernatorial nomination to run against Martinez in the fall.

In her ad, Martinez also says that inheriting a deficit led her to sell the “luxury jet” that had been purchased by her predecessor, Democrat Richardson.

Martinez campaigned in 2010 on getting rid of the jet, calling it a symbol of the excess of Richardson’s eight years in office. In her ad, Martinez says maintenance costs for the jet were about $250,000 a year.

Instead of spending money on the plane, Martinez said, she started a program in which every first-grader in New Mexico would get a book. This, she says in the ad, encourages kids to read at home during summertime.

“I believe it’s better to buy reading books for first-graders than to pay for a luxury jet,” Martinez says.

Though not controversial in the way her claims about inheriting a deficit are, Martinez’s statement about every first-grader receiving a book also has generated challenges.

Almudena Abeyta, chief academic officer of Santa Fe Public Schools, said the district in the 2013-14 school year did not receive the books the governor mentions in her ad.

In 2012, Abeyta said, the books arrived in summertime. “I found out about them in very late fall when PED [the state Public Education Department] called concerned that they heard reports they hadn’t been delivered,” Abeyta said in an email.

Steve Velasquez, a teacher at Cuba Elementary for six years, also said his school had not received any books.

“We are a small school district in Northern New Mexico. There has been an ad on television about how the governor has given away a reading book to all first-graders. Today is the last day of school at our school, and the children have not received the books she promised in her ad,” he said Tuesday in an email.

In a follow-up interview by phone, Velasquez said his school did not receive the books last year either.

Larry Behrens, a spokesman for the Public Education Department, said this year’s delivery of books for first-graders is still a few weeks away. But, Behrens said, state records show that books were delivered to New Mexico’s 89 school districts in 2012 and 2013.

“All districts in the state have received books for first-graders for the last two years,” Behrens said.

On request, he specifically looked up the records of districts that said they did not receive the books during the last school year. An employee of the Cuba Independent Schools, for instance, signed a paper saying the books arrived on June 18, 2013, Behrens said.

“We expect districts will get the books again at the same time frame this year,” Behrens said.

In some cases, deliveries during the summer break may have snarled the reading program if books did not end up in students’ hands.

But the state’s two largest school districts, Albuquerque and Las Cruces, each received books for first-graders last summer. About 7,500 books were accepted by the Albuquerque district and almost 2,100 were delivered to Las Cruces, said spokespersons for each district.

Reporter Robert Nott contributed to this story.

Contact Milan Simonich at 986-3080 or Follow his Ringside Seat column and blog at

(33) comments

amy wilson

Instead of buying one book for an entire household, we would get better bang for the buck with more decent, affordable daycare and preschool so parents can go to work and so that kids are READY for kindergarten.

STEVE Solano

Another lie...She is NOT the first latina governor of NM..Don't take my word..just GOOGLE it..Wake UP northern NM voters...don't fall for the 'She is one of us' ads either..

Francis Kittredge

OMG! Governor Martinez lied to us? How can that be? She's our governor, our protector, and our savior. If she likes to us, what is the world coming to?

Philip Taccetta

I agree, well said Mr. Shapiro.

Steve Salazar

New Mexico has to balance its state budget every year, there is no such thing as a deficit here.

Brian Fejer


Mark Ortiz


Jennifer Bizzarro

When the governor sold the NM taxpayers' jet nearly four years ago, the taxpayers realized a net profit of approximately $500,000. That is all. Not $2.5 million. Just a flat, one-time-only $500,000.

Has anyone seen the accounting or audit of that $500,000?
Has all of that money been spent on books for first graders?
What good is a "Summer Reading Program" if kids get their books in the fall?
Were the books written, printed and purchased in New Mexico (ha!)?

Folks, it sounds like a lot of money but it really is not. As Ms. Hubbert so accurately notes, the books should be included in the state's educational budget. Why, any Secretary of Public Education would know that!

Quick! Someone get this state a Secretary of Public Education!

Pierce Knolls

From a functional standpoint, what's the difference between a Secretary-designate and a confirmed Secretary?

If the Democrats don't want Skandera to be the Secretary of Education, why don't they just hold a confirmation vote and vote against her? They could have done that anytime in the last four legislative sessions, but they won't.

Donado Coviello


Jennifer Bizzarro

I don't know, Mr. Knolls. I seem to remember the vote was never called to the floor, so technically you are correct.

Functionally, there may be not one iota of difference so my questions still stand regarding the money, audits, books and "Summer Reading Programs" that occur during the fall. Also, where is the governor's commitment to "Buy New Mexico?"

If the Secretary or designate is so inept, "Quick! Someone get this state a Secretary of Public Education" -- or a qualified designee.

Pierce Knolls

"I seem to remember the vote was never called to the floor, so technically you are correct. - The chairperson of the Senate Rules Committee, Senator Linda Lopez, D-Albuquerque, has for several years now refused to let Skandera's nomination get past her committee, preventing a confirmation vote in the full Senate.

Since Secretary vs. Secretary-designee is functionally a distinction without a difference, Lopez's stonewalling is accomplishing little more than giving the Senator a little more medial coverage during the legislative sessions. But if Skandera is truly unqualified for the position, or otherwise "inept," then all the Democrats need to do to get rid of her is get Lopez to relent and send Skandera's confirmation down to the floor for a full vote, at which time they can vote to not confirm her.

Jennifer Bizzarro

Has anyone seen the accounting or audit of that $500,000?
Has all of that money been spent on books for first graders?
What good is a "Summer Reading Program" if kids get their books in the fall?
Were the books written, printed and purchased in New Mexico?

Susan H Bell

Thank you New Mexican for printing the truth!

Mark Ortiz

Politician lies.
Voter turn out, record low
Politician wins office.
Dancing with the Stars post record viewership numbers.

Toni Hubbert

It is ridiculous to think proceeds from selling a state owned airplane would be necessary to purchase books for kids. Book budgets in regular educational funding should be used to help kids learn to like books and start reading. What's wrong with the state's book buying budget? Why aren't books already available for kids? Real name: Toni Hubbert

Eli Chavez

Oh! Susana La Tejana Martinez, you continue to lie about your accomplishments. Liars never win and Liars will never get their integrity back. The only reason you are running for Governor is because you want to "Enhance" yourself. New Mexicans are not stupid, we live in the Land of Enchantment and this is what we want to "Enhance" Jobs, Education, Transparency, Leadership, and a Governor that does not lie to New Mexicans. Gov. Martinez we are going show up at the polls and vote you out. Thereafter, you may want to go work for your real bosses the Koch Brothers who are using you because of your last name. Question: How much did you pay for the books that were never received by some school districts. Can you show us taxpayers where you purchased the books. Did your COS order the books? Did the publishers of the books contribute CASH to your Campaign of Lies? The Cash given to you by the Koch Brothers should been spent on meals for our Kids who go to School hungry everyday. Where did the real GOP Party go? Well it appears that the New GOP KKK party has taken over. Shame on you and your New GOP KKK party.

Pat Shackleford

"Liars never win and Liars will never get their integrity back."

Unfortunately, that statement is only partially true. Liars often win. Major case-in-point; Barack Obama, who has a long list of lofty and righteous policy proclamations (which he would act upon if & when elected) which have been routinely ignored as if they hadn't come out of his own mouth (thank you, YouTube). These many years later, it's easy to say He lied and continues to lie, although his delivery is so smoooth, that Democrats seem to enjoy taking-it that way; lying-down face-first.

As to "integrity"; a lot of public perception and opinion is shaped by the media one is exposed to. As we've seen demonstrated now after a long-decade of the disastrous, deadly, and expensive Iraq invasion/occupation; the major players (war-criminals) who Lied US into it (Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Connie Rice, Colin Powell et al) walk-free, appearing on TV as "experts" whose opinions on ANYTHING are taken as-though their credibility were intact and worthy. They're even invited to speak at university commencement ceremonies (for big money) as if the deadly stench of their past deeds doesn't precede them. It is gratifying that Condoleezza Rice recently backed-down from a $35K gig at Rutgers, where students decided they didn't appreciate being lectured by a lying official of the government who gets richly-rewarded for her complicity in war-crimes. Martinez has some work to do, if she hopes to achieve that noxious level. But with help from well-heeled corporate polluters, she just may.

Pierce Knolls

Unfortunately, if you limit your elections choices to only those politicos who have never lied, you won't have anyone left to vote for.

Pat Shackleford

Sad but true. So be it, I'll vote Green. I gave up voting for the "lesser" evil before Obama hijacked the Democratic Party and turned formerly liberal "progressives" into middle of the road war-embracing corporatists. No hope for them in 2016 either, as Hillary is no lesser-evil to anyone.

Eli Chavez

Integrity is everything and once it is gone it is gone forever. The invasion of Iraq by Bush, Cheney, Rice was for Oil. " W" Lied to the American People about his justification to invade Iraq. Sadam was America's SOB and he was hung by the Invaders. Now the Oil Rich Koch Brothers have purchased the Roberts Supreme Court with CASH. Susana La Tejana Martinez can not stand on her own two feet and has given into the Koch Brothers. Martinez wants to do what the Governor of Kansas has done to Education... destroy New Mexico's teachers and education system. "W" was not available to jockey his tactical aircraft during the Vietnam and the CIA Secret War in Laos because he was nowhere to be found. Bush, Cheney, Ted Nugent, Beck and Rush the doper never been there and are responsible for American G.I.'s who were KIA and WIA. Where is the Old GOP? The New GOP KKK Party has been taken over causing our Middle Class to fade. Time for New Mexicans to tell it like it is ... about Surrogate Martinez ... who accepted the New Orleans Maifa Cash for giving a Casino Contract to Los Mafioso's de New Orleans.

Donado Coviello

Eli, you gotta chill.

JS Martinez

Thank you, Santa Fe New Mexican, for printing truth! The Albuquerque Journal is far too cowed by Susana to ever serve as anything more than the sorry mouthpiece for her administration. Kudos to you!

Jay Shapiro

Just what type of ads would you expect from a candidate who is neither particularly bright nor sophisticated and so relies extensively upon a series of outside Republican "message managers" and "fixers" who know little and care less about the facts relating to New Mexico's politics and economics. It seems to me that literally everything about Governor Martinez and her administration is based on "smoke and mirrors."

Mel Hayes

Well said Mr. Shapiro. [thumbup]

Jeff Vigil

I agree well said. Your smoke and mirrors comment is spot on. When she ran for Office her motto was" Open and Transparent government" I think she meant slightly open and translucent government.

Steve Salazar

But put a carpetbagger to run against her, and she'll win again.

Jennifer Bizzarro

She's a carpetbagger herself and so is most of her staff and advisors. The only ones that are fooled by the governor's constant mewling, "I'm for New Mexico," bull are those who need so desperately to hang on to something, anything, that they will settle for the senseless argument, "But she's female and she's Hispanic."

Excuse me, but that's a rather large section of New Mexico's population. And also that of Texas, Florida, Arizona, Nevada, New York, New Jersey, California . . .. Nothing to special to see here, folks.

Pierce Knolls

At least she's not one of those dreaded Anglo newcomers.

Jennifer Bizzarro

No, Mr. Knolls, she's not like her advisers or Cabinet members at all.
She's simply the "beard."[wink]

Pierce Knolls

Susana is a beard? I didn't know Chuck leaned that way. Not that there's anything wrong with that.


Jennifer Bizzarro

It's a little NYC yiddish slang from the old neighborhood--more like "I'm only the beard," in Broadway Danny Rose.

In this case, I meant it as in Ted Rall's 2004 cartoon that mocked Condoleezza Rice, depicting her character being sent to a "racial re-education camp" where she refers to herself as George W. Bush's "beard." Beard in this context ostensibly referred to Rice camouflaging racial discrimination in the White House; it had been reported in the press in 2003 that she had been involved in crafting Bush's position on race-based preferences. Then there was the time that Laura moved out of the White House because of "unsubstantiated gossip" . . ..

But Jerry's a classic--not there's anything wrong with that!

You are a very funny man, Mr. Knolls![smile]

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