Created: 04/17/2014 6:10 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4
"I'm not perfect, but I'm not going to pretend that I didn't do that."
That is likely to be all the apology anyone is going to get from Gov. Susana Martinez for remarks she made in a secretly taped private discussion that was published in the liberal politics magazine "Mother Jones" this week.
The discussion between Martinez and several political aides took place during the Fall of 2010 when she was running for governor against Democrat Diane Denish. At one point Martinez said "I'm so tired of that little bitch calling me a liar."
"I fight hard for the people I believe in," Martinez told reporters Thursday in Albuquerque. "Sometimes I get frustrated and sometimes I may say something – a swear word – that I'm not proud of, but it is never intended to be offensive."
The taped conversation also caught one of her political assistants commenting on the speaking style of the late Speaker of the House Ben Lujan.
"Someone told me he is absolutely eloquent in Spanish, but his English? He sounds like a retard," the aide is heard telling Martinez.
Her response? "Oh."
Martinez has a sister who is developmentally delayed. She has cared for her throughout most of her life.
"You know I can certainly empathize," Martinez said Thursday. "I have an accent. When I grew up, Spanish was my first language at home. I learned English at home and so I speak with an accent. Many members of my family speak with one." Martinez pointed out that her political aide was passing along something somebody else said, not his own opinion of Lujan. Lujan's family has blasted Martinez for not rebuking the assistant.
The tapes caught Martinez expressing some doubts about giving teachers a pay raise when the state was looking at a monumental deficit, because they don't work twelve months a year.
"They already don't work two and a half months out of the year, three months out of the year," Martinez says on the recording.
Four years after making the remarks, Martinez points to her record of raising teacher pay in this year's legislative session. Martinez wanted a 10 percent raise for beginning teachers. Lawmakers settled on 6.7 percent, and the Governor agreed. Veteran teachers got a three percent raise.
"We also have committed more funding to education than ever in this history of New Mexico," Martinez said. "So they have my commitment, my complete commitment, because I know how important they are in the lives of children."
Meanwhile teachers union leaders met with other progressive community group leaders at the world-famous Barelas Coffee House Thursday morning for breakfast and a discussion about their outrage, and how best to use it to defeat Martinez in her campaign for re-election.
"We knew all along that she didn't like public education and teachers and educators," said state Teachers Federation President Stephanie Ly. "We knew that, but now here's the proof that goes with it and we are also quite upset with her lack of respect for the hard work that we do."
"Shame on her," said longtime community activist Mary Molina. "She needs to apologize to everybody – Republicans, Democrats, women, men, girls."
"What does this mean long term," wondered Pat Davis of Progress Now. "Is it another flash-in-the-pan story that people will forget or are these audio tapes going to turn into TV ads that people are going to pay attention to?"
A multi-million dollar question right there for the Democratic party, which is already using the "Mother Jones" article to drum up campaign contributions. Ironically, Republicans are using it for the same purpose, asking for voters to help Martinez fight off a smear attack in the liberal media.