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.”
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.”