A lengthy and critical Mother Jones profile of Gov. Susana Martinez published today features five leaked audio recordings during the 2010 gubernatorial campaign, offering a candid look at some unsavory behavior.
MoJo reporter Andy Kroll writes that listening to behind-the-scenes audio of Martinez is like "watching an episode of HBO's Veep, with over-the-top backroom banter full of pique, self-regard, and vindictiveness."
One back-and-forth banter between then-candidate Martinez and her campaign staff illustrates their befuddlement with the New Mexico Commission on the Status of Women, which MoJo reports was established in 1973 to advocate for equal pay and safety for women. MoJo dishes the following exchange:
"What the hell is that?" she asked.
"I don't know what the fuck they do," replied her deputy campaign manager, Matt Kennicott.
"What the hell does a commission on women's cabinet do all day long?" Martinez asked.
"I think [deputy campaign operations director Matt] Stackpole wants to be the director of that so he can study more women," Kennicott said.
"Well, we have to do what we have to do," McCleskey chimed in, as Martinez burst out laughing. (As governor, she would line-item veto the commission's entire budget.)
Martinez, who as governor has supported increasing pay for beginning teachers, is also caught on tape criticizing them:
"During the campaign we can't say it I guess because it's education, but
I really keep going back to that, you know, 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, ummm, but earn
salaries the same rate people who do work 12 months a year."
Another recording has her listening to a speech from her 2010 Democratic opponent Diane Denish and saying, "I'm surprised that little bitch called me a liar." Kennicott, who also served as a spokesman for the House Republican Caucus and now does public relations for the state Human Services Department, is recorded observing that former state House of Representatives Speaker Ben Luján, who has since died, "sounds like a retard."
Martinez dismisses MoJo as "one of the most liberal publications in the country" in a message sent out to supporters today titled "D.C. Liberal Media" and accuses the magazine of using "stolen audiotapes from our debate prep sessions four years ago."
"This tabloid is using material from the same people who are under federal indictment and investigation for stealing my emails," she writes.
That's a reference to former campaign manager Jamie Estrada, who's facing trial this summer over charges that he intercepted Martinez' private emails. MoJo Washington DC Bureau Chief David Corn tells SFR that the magazine, like any publication, doesn't give up confidential sources and adds that the audio recordings were vetted "thoroughly" before they were published.
"We did not illegally obtain any of this material, but to protect our sources anonymity, we don’t discuss details about how the material was obtained or provided to us," Corn says. "At the end of the day, they are not challenging the accuracy of this."
This isn't the first time the governor's office has accused authors of unflattering articles for using Estrada as an unnamed source.
Last November, the governor's office accused the National Journal, which had just written a similarly critical story focused on Martinez' top political operative Jay McCleskey, of using Estrada as a source. National Journal reporter Daniel Libit eventually released a statement that Estrada was indeed not the quoted, unnamed source that the governor's office accused him of being in the story.