Denish: Senders of racist e-mail should lose jobs

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Diane Denish

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Diane Denish says if a ‘racist’ e-mail was sent among employees of her office like the one forwarded by an employee of Republican opponent Susana Martinez’s office, those employees would lose their jobs.

In her first comments about the situation, Denish, the state’s lieutenant governor, said there is “absolutely nothing funny about the email that was circulated by Susana Martinez’s staff.  It is offensive, inexcusable and runs against the fabric of what we stand for as New Mexicans.”

“As far as I’m concerned, there should be zero tolerance for racism, and Susana Martinez’s silence on the matter has been disappointing,” Denish said. “Needless to say, if this happened in my office, the employees responsible would no longer have their jobs.”

“Like most New Mexicans, I value the diversity that makes our state strong and unique,” she said. “It’s disheartening to know that there are still people who find racial stereotypes to be funny. There should be no place for that kind of hate in the District Attorney’s Office or anywhere else in state government.”

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Martinez, the Doña Ana County district attorney, has reprimanded the employee who forwarded the e-mail but has made no public statement about the incident. Instead, she had her chief deputy district attorney explain to the media on Tuesday that the employee had been reprimanded, but Susan Reidel would not go into details.

The state Administrative Office of the District Attorneys says it’s considering what to do about its employee who sent the e-mail to the prosecutor in Martinez’s office.

The e-mail, which you can read here courtesy of Democracy for New Mexico, is undoubtedly inappropriate and offensive. It starts with a Mexican and an Arab in a bar drinking beers (nonalcoholic for the Arab because he’s a Muslim). Both shoot their glasses, with the Mexican describing how cheap glasses are in Mexico and the Arab saying there’s so much sand to make glass where he’s from that he, like the Mexican, never has to drink from the same glass twice.

Then a New Mexico girl shoots the Mexican and Arab and says, “In New Mexico, we have so many illegal aliens we don’t have to drink with the same ones twice.” The e-mail ends with the line, “God bless New Mexico and that particular New Mexican girl.”

Update, 5:05 p.m.

The Martinez campaign and state GOP are calling Denish a hypocrite because of her statement. From the Martinez campaign:

“Diane Denish’s statement demonstrates breathtaking hypocrisy and desperation. Susana Martinez found the forwarded email ‘joke’ to be unacceptable, and immediately addressed the issue when it was brought to her attention by reprimanding the individual and issuing a statement from her official office to make clear that the email forwarded by one employee did not represent her views, nor the views of the office. The reality is that Denish chairs the Children’s Cabinet, which includes CYFD where over 100 employees repeatedly used government computers to access inappropriate materials, such as pornography, without facing termination. In fact, when one employee was fired, he was reinstated by a judge who found the firing was not consistent with the lax treatment of over 100 other employees who engaged in similar misconduct and never faced termination. Diane Denish needs to square her empty rhetoric with her record by explaining why she did not publicly demand the termination of the over 100 employees who improperly used their state computers to access such things as pornography in her own Children’s Cabinet.”

The state GOP, meanwhile, hit Denish and the state Democratic Party, whose chairman has called on Martinez to fire the employee who forwarded the e-mail. The GOP also cited the situation with the CYFD employees.

“Why weren’t Diane Denish and the Democrat Party this vocal when it was exposed that 150 employees from CYFD had been misusing state email accounts and visiting porn sites?” GOP spokeswoman Janel Causey asked. “Maybe it was because Diane Denish was the chair of a cabinet which was charged with oversight of CYFD, or maybe it’s because we are in the middle of campaign season.”

The details of the situation they’re referring to at the state’s Children, Youth and Families Department are laid out in a 2006 Albuquerque Journal article. Essentially, CYFD found 150 employees with inappropriate e-mails, many of them pornographic, on their work computers.

One employee who was fired for keeping pornography on his computer was reinstated by a judge who, according to the Journal, found that his misconduct warranted discipline but said “his firing was ‘arbitrary and capricious,’ given CYFD’s unexplained disparate treatment of 150 CYFD employees found with inappropriate materials.”

Two of those 150 employees were fired, while some 132 were given written warnings and 13 others received more serious reprimands, according to the state GOP.

I’ve not yet received a response from the Denish campaign or state Democratic Party to the new statements from Martinez and the state GOP.

And as a reminder: I’ve already written about how both Martinez and Denish have exaggerated Denish’s authority over CYFD in her role as head of the New Mexico Children’s Cabinet. Read about that here.

Update, 5:55 p.m.

From state Democratic Party spokesman James Hallinan:

“The people of New Mexico are learning a lot about Susana Martinez this week. Instead of showing true leadership in the face of adversity, Martinez is hiding behind spokespeople and trying to distract New Mexicans. Her failure to directly condemn a racist email from her DA’s Office speaks volumes to all New Mexicans.”

15 thoughts on “Denish: Senders of racist e-mail should lose jobs

  1. Well said jimdavid. That whole Richardson-Miller-Nicole scandal is just amazing. But I shouldn’t be amazed, NM government once again proves itself to be a banana republic. No professionalism at all. The Barker interview just reveals how unprofessional and random our government is. How can these kind of people get elected and appointed? Disgusting displays of waste and incompetence.

  2. First, I want to say how embarssing it is that Katherine Miller is defending an AWOL employee…that is not what DFA does….it is time for her to LEAVE her position and allow transperncu to set in….WHAT WERE YOU THINKING? If Diane were Gov this woudl never happen….

  3. It is very hypocritical for Denish to come out “denouncing” this act. Martinez did the right thing and reprimanded the employee. It is certainly more than Denish did for all of those porn-surfing employees at CYFD. So what is it Diane – were you or were you not in charge of these people? It seems as she wants to be in charge and be an experienced candidate when there is no bad news about her tenure as Lt. Governor.

    And fearthelobos – Why not bring up the messes that have been the result of the last eight years? What difference does that make? One good jab deserves another, and to be honest the porn thing seems like a heck of a lot worse than the email. Again, at least Susana did something about it. Denish did nothing.

  4. The Martinez campaign response is insulting, quite frankly. Instead of Susana saying directly from her mouth that the email was disgusting and racist, she tries to distract everyone with porn from four years ago. Really? Come on Susana, a little leadership…please.

  5. Everybody listen up. This story was put out for one obvious reason – to teach us all to not be hypocrites. Yes indeed. If you make a mistake once, please refrain from ever correcting that mistake. That is the way. Yesirree. Serial killers are the most admirable of all. Keep on truckin’! Yeehaw!

  6. First, Ms. Martinez runs a nasty, negative campaign to become the Republican nominee for Governor. Then, she ignores and hides behind an employee who sends racist e mails.

    She wants to lead New Mexico forward? She can’t be trusted in ANY elcted office, much less the highest position in our state.

  7. Susan Reidel is running the office while Susana Martinez is running her campagin. It was the AP that told Susana about the racist e-mail that was going around the office. It tells me that running both the D.A. office and running for governor is too much to deal with. Once again Martinez should quit or take a leave until this election is over. Why should we pay her if she is not doing her job?

  8. Yes, rdmtndem this is the kind of response you can probably expect from Susana if she’s elected governor and that’s a good thing. Why? Because she’ll follow proper personnel procedure in dealing with the state’s workforce.

    I’m a dues paying member of AFSCME. What’s important to me is that we will have a governor who respects due process and that we public employees have rights that need to be followed. We can’t be fired just for forwarding a stupid email.

    So who will be better for good hardworking state employees? Diane Denish who wants to politicize this situation and use a non-exempt employee as a pawn, or Susana Martinez who is showing that she will respect our rights?

    I have had enough of Richardson and Denish protecting all their crony exempt appointees. State employees need a governor who knows what its like to actually be one of us.

    I wish that AFSCME would get back to standing up for union members instead of advocating for more public spending that we can’t afford anymore. The irresponsible spending puts all of us employees at risk of losing the state government jobs that actually make a difference. Why should I have to go on furlough because we have too many people?

  9. Is this an example of what we can expect from Susanna Martinez if she is ever put in charge of 18,000 state employees? No response– let someone else take the heat? Racist emails are not funny and it is especially disappointing when the law enforcement community part takes. When Diane Denish becomes Governor, she can fire employees who exhibit this type of behavior. Maybe the Republican party faithful should have asked the current Governor, who is in charge, why the state took the actions it did in CYFD case. The Republican party comments are another attempt to fool the public in believing a Lt. Governor has the power to hire and fire state employees. Get real.

  10. Or maybe Denish should be fired for fiddling away while Rome was in flames. Try to hold her accountable for anything and she says she was powerless to stop or unaware of the problem.

    On the other hand, to listen to her campaign rhetoric, Denish is responsible for running the universe for the past decade.

  11. There is no room for racist e-mails and the persons should be let go. Martinez needs to fire the person.

  12. These comments remind me of FOX News: Fair and Balanced! Although, some say its “The Most Biased Name in News.”

  13. I don’t know about the Friends of Bill and Diane that inhabit the offices of the Lt. Gov. but I am not sure the ability to fire someone in a county job is quite as easy as Ms. Moral High Ground implies. Of course throwing out a political shot with no apparent knowledge of how to manage an actual real organization, is nothing new.

  14. This is coming from the State’s #2 official who sat by and watched while our taxpayer dollars were being wasted and enriching Richardson’s donors? This is the woman who never uttered a peep about the misconduct going on at the PRC? Oh and what about her own government staff doing political work while on the taxpayer dime?

    She may not have any power, but why didn’t she speak up against these state employee indiscretions?

    Keep trying Diane. Maybe people will start ignoring that you’ve been a pathetic manager for the past 8 years. Citizens like me will keep reminding people of your terrible record.

    Diane wants to gain political advantage at the expense of a low level government employee. Talk about cheap, not to mention possibly illegal.

    What Susana has done in reprimanding this person is exactly what any good manager should do. If it comes out that this person who sent the email has a history of bad behavior and ignoring reprimands then yes, fire her. Otherwise the state is looking at a huge lawsuit. I know…I am an certified HR professional with decades of experience in dealing with things like this.

    What personnel or management experience does Diane have? Oh yeah, her staff still hasn’t called me to tell me the name of the business she ran or what industry it was in.

  15. More *facepalming*! It was in bad judgment to send via state govt email, but at the same time NO jokes/non-business emails should be sent using state resources. GET OVER IT. It hurt no one, and you hear much worse turning on Comedy Central, or just listening to Speaker Ben Lujan (who actually implies racism, instead of just a meaningless joke).