LAS CRUCES, N.M. (KRQE) – In days after she scored a historic victory in the 2010 election, then Governor-elect Susana Martinez and her team were planning out their transition. New cabinet secretaries needed to be picked, executive orders drafted and parties planned. But an email discussing part of that planning has drawn fire from civil rights group LULAC.
In that email, released by the Doña Ana County District Attorney’s office, then-chief deputy district attorney Amy Orlando is having a conversation with an unidentified person about a Martinez inaugural event less than a week after Martinez was elected.
Orlando writes back with Martinez’s preference.
“She wants it blk and white w a hint of Susan Colemen color pink,” Orlando wrote. “No mexican affair!!”
That last part is what drew the ire of LULAC, which says it appears to show Martinez distancing herself from her heritage.
“It’s a failure to respect the community from which she hails and the community that was instrumental in electing her to office,” said Dennis Montoya, LULAC’s executive director.
But Orlando and the Martinez campaign say it was nothing of the sort. Orlando released the following statement to News 13 Wednesday afternoon:
“The email is taken grossly out-of-context. The question being discussed at the time was the theme of one particular inaugural event and whether it would be a southwestern affair, black-tie affair, Mexican-American affair, etc. The Governor-elect stated this event should be a black-tie affair, as it would follow one of the children’s balls, and I certainly wasn’t quoting her verbatim.”
Jessica Hernandez, Martinez’ deputy chief of staff, also said the email was taken out of context.
“The term, ‘Mexican affair’ is one you can find, a lot of professionals use it to describe a theme of a particular decor or food-theme for parties,” Hernandez said.
She said the Governor wanted the overall theme of the inaugural ball to be a black-tie event, but she also had rooms with different themes, including a Hispanic heritage room.
“She is extremely proud of her heritage, proud to be first female Hispanic governor in the United States, and I think that has come through,” Hernandez said.
The Democratic Party of New Mexico discovered that controversial email through a public records request. The current Doña County district attorney, who is also a Democrat, said Orlando and her staffers deleted other emails and erased hard drives before they left office.
Even though the emails should have been preserved, the current DA said he is not making any claims of criminal wrongdoing.