martinez

Gov. Susana Martinez makes her way out of a Yellow Ribbon Ceremony at the Santa Fe Readiness Center Aviation Support Center where she helped welcome 38 National Guard soldiers on Tuesday. Martinez was hurried away afterward as reporters tried to ask her about the latest recording from a hotel disturbance in Santa Fe. Luis Sánchez Saturno/The New Mexican

Critics of Gov. Susana Martinez have long considered her a dirty fighter in campaigns and a politician with misguided policies. But Tuesday marked the first time that Martinez’s political opponents attacked her personal integrity — calling her a liar based on a newly released police audio recording that revealed discrepancies in her first version of a disturbance at a hotel in Santa Fe.

“To be clear, this is not about the governor enjoying a few too many at her holiday party. This is about her breathtaking lack of honesty and her appalling treatment of our law enforcement officers and the workers of the Eldorado Hotel,” said House Minority Leader Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe. “Instead of taking responsibility for her action, she fabricated stories.”

The Santa Fe police audio recording made public Tuesday includes Sgt. Anthony Tapia saying Martinez was “inebriated” during a holiday party for her friends and staff that escalated to complaints that members of her entourage threw bottles from a fourth-floor balcony. Martinez had said that she consumed only one and a half alcoholic drinks across several hours.

But the greater credibility issue for Martinez based on Tapia’s recording was that she admitted someone had thrown bottles from a room that she and others occupied at the Eldorado Hotel the night of Dec. 12-13. Last week, in her first public statements about the disturbance, Martinez and her spokesman had insisted snowballs — not bottles — were thrown.

Tapia’s four-minute recording starts with a hotel employee talking with the governor. The employee tells Martinez that he went to a room occupied by members of Martinez’s group. The employee said he “personally heard how loud it was.”

Martinez tells the employee she had been to the room two hours earlier and it was empty. She also suggests she had been in the room even earlier when there was someone throwing bottles.

“Five hours ago, there was somebody that we said, ‘Get out of the room. Do not be doing what you’re doing,’ ’’ Martinez tells the employee. “And there were bottles being thrown over. We said, ‘Get the hell out and stop.’ But now the complaint is with the balcony and I am in there. And there are no bottles being thrown over.”

This differed from the account that her press aide, Chris Sanchez, gave after earlier police dispatch recordings were released to the New Mexican and other media outlets last week.

“Unbeknownst to the governor, there had been complaints about noise and someone throwing what turned out to be snowballs from the balcony of that room earlier in the night while the governor was in the ballroom,” Sanchez said in a statement on Dec. 18. “While the governor was in the hotel room, she was informed a complaint had been recently made, and was also made aware of the earlier complaints. At that time, the other guests left and the governor went downstairs to the front desk to find out more information about the complaints and assure the hotel staff that those who had caused those issues had long ago left, and there was no longer a problem.”

Questioned Tuesday about the latest recording, Sanchez repeated the original statement that nobody in Martinez’s group threw bottles from a balcony.

In an email, Sanchez said Martinez had only said that someone threw bottles because she was repeating the complaint made by the hotel staff.

“Regardless, the governor apologizes for the conduct of her staff the night of the holiday party. She finds it absolutely unacceptable and plans to address this with her staff — which could include disciplinary action,” Sanchez said.

He also said police found no evidence of bottle throwing, such as broken glass.

Martinez herself declined to answer questions about the hotel confrontation and the police investigation that she sought to halt. She made a public appearance Tuesday in Santa Fe to welcome home soldiers who had been deployed to Kuwait and Iraq, but she hurried away afterward as reporters tried to ask her about the latest recording.

At one point, a member of her security detail pushed away the hand of a KOB-TV cameraman and shoved a door closed as the cameraman tried to follow Martinez to her vehicle.

Although the Republican governor said nothing to the press Tuesday, her opponents were outspoken.

Senate Majority Leader Sen. Michael Sanchez, D-Belen, said in an interview that Martinez may have broken the law by telling Santa Fe police officers and dispatchers to end their investigation of the loud disturbance that may have included members of her party throwing bottles.

“If anyone tries to misdirect a criminal investigation, she or he is subject to a criminal investigation,” said Sen. Sanchez, no relation to the governor’s aide. “If this had involved a call to any other room in the hotel or any home, there would have been a police report and an investigation.”

Sen. Sanchez said Martinez, a former district attorney, knows well that the subject of a police inquiry should not be able to stifle that investigation. But, he said, Martinez used her position as governor to tell police to back off.

“Any regular person who tried to do what she did would be subject to a charge of obstruction, disorderly conduct or interference” with police, Sen. Sanchez said.

Attorney General Hector Balderas’ spokesman could not be reached Tuesday night regarding Sen. Sanchez’s call for an investigation over whether the governor violated the law.

The episode at the hotel came just weeks after Martinez was touted as potential contender for vice president by Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio, a U.S. senator from Florida. Just as important, Martinez is scheduled to give her State of the State speech on Jan. 19, opening day of New Mexico’s legislative session. The recordings from the Eldorado Hotel and dispatch calls have added a raw intensity to criticisms of Martinez and led many residents to say she is unfit to lead the state. An online petition seeking her removal is but one of the public stands against Martinez.

Democratic legislators are among her harshest critics.

“New Mexico deserves leaders who do not bully citizens and public safety officers. I am concerned about our governor, an attorney by trade, who acts arrogantly and brazenly believes she is above the law,” state Sen. Michael Padilla, D-Albuquerque, said Tuesday.

Rep. Jeff Steinborn, D-Las Cruces, posted a public message saying Martinez had been dishonest in her account of what happened.

“Not sure what I’m more upset about, our governor’s poor judgment, putting out misinformation in her response, or the fact they spent $8,000 [of taxpayer money] on a holiday party. It’s all unacceptable,” Steinborn said. He was reacting to reports of how much the function at the Eldorado cost. Chris Sanchez of Martinez’s staff did not respond to a question about whether the figure was correct, but he told television station KRQE that the figure was about right.

Sanchez said the governor’s contingency account paid $7,900 for rental of the hotel ballroom, a buffet and live music. He also said that Pamela Cason, the governor’s records clerk, paid for the hotel room with her own personal funds.

Steinborn also zeroed in on how Martinez conducted herself at the hotel. In the dispatch recordings, Martinez demanded to know who made the noise complaint about her group before saying police should leave because they weren’t needed, as nobody had caused a noisy disturbance. Martinez said that she, along with her disabled sister and some six other people, had been in the room, eating pizza and drinking Cokes.

The New Mexican pointed out to aide Chris Sanchez that Martinez said in the recording released Tuesday that someone was throwing bottles off the balcony. He said she had heard an earlier account of snowballs being thrown, but said the difference was inconsequential.

“The governor does not believe that throwing snowballs off a 4th story balcony at night is somehow less serious than throwing a bottle,” he said in an email. “Either behavior is dangerous and entirely unacceptable.”

The New Mexican had requested Sgt. Tapia’s recording, which was made by a standard device on his belt, on Monday, but the City Attorney’s Office said it didn’t exist. City spokesman Matt Ross said Tuesday that he and the city’s records custodian were both out of the office Monday, creating “some confusion about whether or not there was audio responsive to your request.”

In the latest recording, hotel employees told Martinez that her group was so loud it had driven a guest from her room. The woman was in a hallway with her laptop when the governor spoke to hotel employees about disturbance complaints against her group.

A few seconds into the recording, Martinez asked who the woman in the hallway was and why she was in a corridor instead of her room.

“I guess she couldn’t sleep. She’s a guest,” the hotel employee said.

“I’ll go talk to her,” Martinez said.

At that point, Sgt. Tapia began talking to the employee.

“So, obviously we’re not going to be able to move her,” Tapia told the employee. “What can we do to resolve this?”

“Honestly, you know, I’ve only been really working here for like a month and a half,” the employee responded, “so, like, this actually is my first run-in with this sort of thing. I would never expect the first time to be the governor. I really don’t know what to do in this situation because like I can tell that she’s, that she’s kind of … ”

“Inebriated,” Sgt. Tapia interjected.

Tapia then offered his card to the employee and suggested the employee call if someone else made a noise complaint.

“We really can’t get them to leave,” the employee told Tapia. “I didn’t even know who is in there. Also, I don’t believe it’s six people in there. It’s quite a few people in there.”

Tapia responded, “I guess if issues keep coming up, give me a call. I’ll see if I can get ahold of her security detail, see if we can resolve anything.”

The officer also told the employee the trouble appeared resolved “at least for a little bit.”

“I hope so. I’m hoping they like realize that they were loud and at least keeping it down,” the hotel employee said. “I don’t know if they will, though.”

Daniel J. Chacón and Justin Horwath contributed to this report.

Contact Uriel J. Garcia at 986-3062 or urgarcia@sfnewmexican.com.

(35) comments

John "JC" Warfield

Governor Deep-dish Martinez!

john coventry

"JC" the original 'Ladies Man' Warfield, waz up?
This is the last of 5 free articles I get to read or comment on and although I don't want to get in the middle of this bar room brawl I might as well say hello to you and the other former residents of the "Lost Souls' Room". And maybe trash the New Mexican on their own dime.
JB Yelsky is recovering from a bad accident on her farm. That was just a plug to send her some well wishes.
Later Dude.

Carolyn Cc

It doesn't matter what any other NM gov, or Obama, or anyone down the street does. Nor does the fact that SM was drinking. The question is, did she handle any of her interactions with the hotel and/or the SFPD inappropriately? In today's politics the 'appearance of impropriety' is no longer the line which should not be crossed; that line is in the rearview mirror.

john ramirez

i wonder if when she gets drunk it gives her the urge to run peoples names in the NCIC or attempt to intimidate citizens who lodge complaints or send staff to gather license plate numbers for later!

drunken little troll!

Chris Mechels

We should not be surprised by Susana's behavior, only that it is "out in the open" this time.

Susana is, after all, a District Attorney, of long standing. She has no real experience in "governance", other than being Governor, where she seems to act, still, as Chief Prosecutor.

From my direct experience with DA Spence Pacheco, another "out of control" individual; and the Department of Public Safety, under Eden and Fouratt, I find that those involved in "prosecuting" crime, violations of our laws, have, themselves, little regard for the law.

After all, who's to prosecute them?? The answer, too typically, is that no one will prosecute DAs, and the DAs won't prosecute cops. And, of course, the DPS, whose State Police "investigate" or "cover up" police shootings in our state, seem beyond reach. The State Police Pursuit Policy and Use of Force Policy, both changed under Eden, are ILLEGAL, and there is NOWHERE to go with that fact. SP Chief Kassetas sneers when this issue is mentioned. Why not, he's above the law after all.

With her past as DA, where the "law" is whatever is "useful" to secure convictions, of course Susana sees herself as "above the law", because that is her experience, as DA and Governor. Her DPS is "above the law" also, with illegal polices and "investigating" their own shootings.

When I raised, at the LEA, their "Oath" to uphold our laws, and their ethics, I got snickers and sneers. Right!

Francisco Carbajal

Just one more thing - the SFPD and the RECC "good public servants" should be commended for doing their official duties without having to worry about the political nightmare of losing their jobs. And yes, a sincere verbal and written apology from the Governor to each public servant is appreciated. End of story. [thumbup]

Francisco Carbajal

Now, what's next on the "TOP TEN" news stories for the year of 2015? We still have 8 days before the New Year of 2016 begins. [scared]

Lee Vigil

... and her press release described the evening as such: Governor Martinez had been dancing with her husband Chuck and various children. Gosh, the PR machine is really working overtime here when what really happened was a bunch of really inebriated folks hurling bottles from the balcony, the Governor drunkenly browbeating a front desk clerk and various police officers, and trying to intimidate other hotel guests who paid for their own hotel rooms who just want a good nights rest.

Dan Chase

WHO CARES ABOUT THIS STORY ITS STUPID. THE GOVERNOR DRANK FOR HER CHRISTMAS PARTY AND PEOPLE GOT LOUD, WHO CARES!!! Get a life or if you have one then worry about it not someone else's.

nancy hubbard

Dan Chase, the point is NOT, as you so eloquently put it, that "DRANK FOR HER CHRISTMAS PARTY AND PEOPLE GOT LOUD, WHO CARES!!!!" It's that she LIED and abused her power to intimidate the dispatchers and hotel employees, so really you (and the idiot governor) should "get a life". Hopefully, she can kiss any other government jobs goodbye!

Paul Shipley

She lied and abused her power, kinda like Obama lied and abused his power to get Obamacare passed? "If you like your plan you can keep your plan. If you like your doctor you can keep your doctor. ISIS is contained." On the scales of lying and abuse of power, which one was worse? Oh, the OUTRAGE!!

Comment deleted.
Emily Koyama

Um, "Orange County Cslifornia", (your posts will soon be deleted btw), Yes, Clinton SHOULD have been impeach for staring into tv cameras and flat-out lying to the entire country. People died in Benghazi, and Hillary DID send Top Secret classified emails (and who knows what else) using her private server, knowing damn well that what she was doing was illegal. As for Obamacare, your leader got off on that one thanks to a few pliant Supreme Court justices, but it was clearly an unconstitutional use of Executive power. Just because you like it don't make it right......

Mike Palaima

@ Peter Neal, just because you do not like it, does not make it wrong, either? Reckon you are advising SCOTUS now also, as you know an unconstitutional use of executive power, when you hear it?

Kate Rowe

How much did the staff Christmas party cost? Are these holiday parties paid with tax payer money?

Stan McDaniel

State law prohibits paying for entertainment with state funds. Rest assured that lobbyists were knocking each other over to pay for the event. Multiple lobbyists will pool money in order to avoid triggering reporting requirements and thereby avoid media scrutiny. Alternatively, Mrs. Martinez' campaign easily could pay for the event as could any funds remaining in Dianna Duran's campaign war chest.

Lee Vigil

Again, how did Martinez know that the police were on their way??? She knew enough to go downstairs and ask the front desk person to call the police back and try and get them not to come.

James Baca

google rotting orange time lapse video. It is a great metaphor in understanding what is really happening to Susana Martinez.

Stan McDaniel

In the recording, Tapia says of the governor: “Obviously we’re not going to be able to move her... .”

Sounds like they were showing Martinez favoritism because she travels with armed state police officers. If she were not governor, they would have "moved" her off the premises. SFPD shares responsibility for mishandling this service call.

Khal Spencer

SFPD was between a rock and a hard place. The bad publicity is damage enough.

Joe Ray Anaya

Its not the bad pub, its facing the wrath of the Lush Empress that they are afraid of.

Sam Atakra

Party girl Susana! This is the best Christmas present ever!

Stan McDaniel

Someone get Mrs. Martinez another shovel, she needs to dig herself into a deeper hole.

James Baca

lies never work

Paul Shipley

Lies never work? Seriously? You better tell Hillary before it's too late.

Mike Johnson

Drunk you say officer? No lie Sherlock, you figured it out.

Joseph Hempfling

Hey Obama has his weed, why can't our Governor have her whiskey? after all
they deserve it, in my opinion!

Brian Fejer

What are you talking about? Obama has his weed?

Mike Johnson

Obama is high most all the time, look at the reality altered state he lives in and the things he proposes and wants to do, a totally stoned pony.

Pierce Knolls

And in other news, Sgt. Anthony Tapia has just been promoted to Captain Obvious.

But seriously, I don't envy police officer like Sgt. Anthony Tapia. Their jobs are hard enough without having to respond to stupid calls like this. But when even our Governor is so irresponsible that her staff party requires a police response, our police will always be overworked.

Rod Lievano

Now it's not "snowballs."

Peter Romero

just words with no evidence. what a society we live in.

Carmen M

Gov Martinez' own recorded words are surely valid evidence, no?
The "society we live in" has us widely taped and recorded.

Surely SFPD, hotel security, the desk clerk, the dispatcher can't all have been in error in reporting the incident.

Pres Nixon would remind us that it's the cover-up, not the crime, that comes back to bite us.

Brian Fejer

Worst Governor in New Mexico History, WAY worst than Governor Richardson! New Mexico is ranked as the worst run state in the country. We have the highest unemployment in the United States. NM is ranked the worst place in the United States to own a home. NM ranks worst in the nation in burglaries! We rank worst in the nation for Job Creation! Imagine how much better off we'd be, if we had a Governor capable of basic Governance! She clearly lied about the snowballs, and about having one and a half drinks. She lacks credibility. Albuquerque and New Mexico have not been well served by the idiotic exploits of Jay McCleskey, Susanam Martinez, and Hizzoner Richard Berry. This city and state has gone to **** under their failed leadership. You have to wonder about the Know Nothings who have appeased them for the last six years, always blaming Obama!

Gerald Joyce

Did anyone die in that hotel room, like on Elephant Butte Lake, or a the car driven by one of Richardson's supporters and his bodyguard? What about those abbreviated investigations? Oh, that's right he's a Democrat. And did they find broken bottles or didn't they? Good deal for New Mexicans going into the legislative session. Let's spend money on an investigation Sanchez!

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