This story has been updated to include a written statement from the Governor’s Office, and quotes from an interview Governor Martinez gave to KRQE News 13 on Friday evening.
SANTA FE (KRQE) — A late-night phone conversation between Governor Susana Martinez and Santa Fe police showed a different side of New Mexico’s governor as she pushed police to back off when they responded to a noise complaint involving a party for the governor’s staff held at a posh Santa Fe hotel.
Recordings of the phone call obtained by KRQE News 13 reveal a conversation between emergency dispatchers and the governor, as she tries to convince police that there’s no need for them to respond to the complaint at the Eldorado Hotel early Sunday morning.
On several occasions, Martinez pressures dispatchers and hotel staff to tell her who made the complaint. The dispatcher and hotel staff refuse.
At the end of the recorded call, Martinez, referring to the officers who arrived at the hotel, tells dispatchers: “You can call them off.”
Listen to the other 911 recordings, story continues below:
Governor Martinez, who was in the room that was the subject of the complaint call, said she shouldn’t have involved herself in the matter.
“I should not go down there and have handled the situation, and try to resolve it… and so I apologize to the people of New Mexico. That was not appropriate,” said Martinez in an interview with KRQE News 13 on Friday evening.
“I certainly absolutely don’t believe in people using their positions of authority to have something different occur,” said the governor, “… that was never, ever my intent: to use my position to have a different result.”
The governor denied that she was intoxicated during the incident.
“I had had… I mean, I’m telling you, nothing that I said or did was as a result of any alcohol, in fact, I danced about 95% of the four hours that I was there because I loved dancing with the kiddos, and so I was not drinking except at the very end I think my husband got me a cocktail and that was it,” said Martinez.
“It was my mistake, and I own it,” said the governor.
The Phone Call
The episode with police began with a phone call at 1:31 a.m. early Sunday morning from the front desk at the four-star hotel in downtown Santa Fe. The front desk attendant told police she’d received several complaints from hotel guests about a fourth-floor room that had been “partying” and throwing bottles off the balcony.
“Yes they’ve been warned numerous times throughout the night and they’re still at it,” said a female hotel staff member in her initial call to Santa Fe Regional Emergency Communications Center dispatchers.
The attendant said hotel staff now wanted the guests to be kicked out. A dispatcher sent police.
Three minutes later, the front desk attendant called dispatchers again: “Um, I actually have, uh, someone that would like to speak with you,” the front desk attendant says.
The governor’s voice comes on the line: “Hi. This is Governor Susana Martinez… tell me what the complaint is.”
The dispatcher, apparently unaware that the governor was at the hotel, seems confused by the fact that Martinez is on the other end of the line. The conversation continues as the governor begins a roughly six-minute-long effort to get police to leave and to find out what room had been complaining about noise.
“Loud noise?” the governor asks when told there’s been a noise complaint. “We’re in a room eating pizza.”
“I’m sorry, ma’am. Someone called us out there and we have to go,” the dispatcher replies.
“Someone? Who is someone?” the governor demands.
For numerous public safety reasons, police dispatchers do not immediately give out information about people making complaints to the subject of the complaint.
“Why can you not?” the governor responds. “It’s public record. Give it to me.”
As the dispatcher tells the governor he would like to transfer her to a supervisor, Martinez turns her attention to the front desk attendant: “Has there been another resident who’s been making complaints?”
The front desk attendant says another guest made the complaint, but refuses to identify the guest for the governor.
“Tell me. What room number? So that… Are they on the fourth floor? … Next door? To our room?”
“They’re in that area, yes,” the attendant replies.
“That area? Are they next door?” the governor continues, “And I wanna know who they are.”
Her effort is unsuccessful.
“Oh you can tell it to the police but they won’t tell you … you won’t tell me?” the governor says, then adds, “I’ll get it from the cops.”
Santa Fe police arrived at the hotel within minutes. As they did, the dispatcher came back on the line with the governor, who tells him police have arrived.
“Oh do you want to talk to them then or…” the dispatcher says.
“No,” the governor interrupts, “I want to talk to you. Tell me who made the complaint.”
The dispatcher asks if he can transfer the governor to his supervisor.
“You’ve been trying to do that for a while,” the governor replies.
Once the supervisor comes on the line, the governor asks what the “issue is” at the Eldorado.
“I didn’t know that there was an issue going on, ma’am,” the supervisor says.
“Oooh, I didn’t think you did. Well, tell me why you’ve had two officers here,” Governor Martinez says.
The governor continues to try to find out where the original complaint came from, then explains: “OK, so we’re sitting in there, I’m the governor of the state of New Mexico, and we are in there with my sister, who’s disabled, along with about six other people who are having pizza.”
The supervisor tells Martinez that there’s a commander on site who might be able to answer questions, Santa Fe police Sgt. Anthony Tapia.
Martinez turns away from the phone and says, “Anthony Tapia? Hello, commander. Yes, why did that require three police officers to be here?”
It’s unclear if a third officer just arrived, if Martinez didn’t notice the officer earlier or if she erred in her initial description of two officers being on scene.
The supervisor, still on the line, tells the governor about the complaint of bottles being thrown off the hotel’s fourth-floor balcony.
“I’m sorry, there’s no one on the balcony,” Martinez says, “and there’s no one throwing bottles off of the balcony. And if there were, it was about six hours ago.”
Martinez tries once more to find out who complained about a party in her room: “Commander? May I speak with you, please? Who did the complaint?”
Tapia replies, “OK. I understand. We just wanted to make sure everything’s OK with you and your security, ma’am.”
“Everything is,” Martinez replies, “We are eating pizza and drinking cokes, and whoever was throwing bottles is not there, hasn’t been there for like six hours.”
Tapia indicates he’s going to leave. The governor thanks him and tells the dispatch supervisor, “We appreciate it. There’s no necessary — no necessity for your officers to be here … You can call them off. Goodbye.”
Santa Fe police did not file a report on the episode. A spokesman for the city of Santa Fe, Matt Ross, told KRQE News 13 that the officers who arrived on scene spoke to the governor, state police and hotel staff. After receiving “assurances” from staff and hotel security that the matter was under control. Ross said the city’s officers made the decision not to investigate further on their own.
The Santa Fe officers did not attempt to contact the hotel guest who made the complaint, nor did they go up to the governor’s fourth-floor room to investigate further.
Ross said the officers made a sweep of the outside of the building to look for evidence of broken bottles, but found nothing.
Santa Fe’s interim police chief, Patrick Gallagher, was at the holiday party as an invited guest. Ross said the chief was not notified of the call until Monday morning.
The Governor’s Response
Reached by News 13 Thursday evening, the night before the recordings were made public, Chris Sanchez, the governor’s spokesman claimed not to have information about the call or whether the governor was at the Eldorado Hotel on Saturday night and early Sunday morning. Later Thursday, Sanchez revealed the governor had been at the hotel for a staff party.
The governor said Friday that the staff party included roughly 200 guests and took place in the hotel’s ballroom without a problem.
Martinez said the problems started earlier in the night, while she was not in the hotel room. The complaint call from the hotel confirms problems had been ongoing and that those in the room had been warned.
“As I learned now, a lot of folks coming in and out of that room, doors opening and closing and not being respectful of the guests that were there and so they had gotten some complaints,” said Martinez.
Governor Martinez said her husband, her sister and several other staff members went up to the hotel room after the holiday party had ended.
According to the governor, a staffer from the legal department rented the room for the night.
It’s not clear what prompted the timing of the hotel’s complaint call to police. Contrary to the governor’s timeline, though, the front desk attendant did not indicate during the call that she had waited hours to ask that the room’s occupants be kicked out.
A spokeswoman for the hotel did not return calls for comment on the incident.
“I did not know the extent of the chaos that was taking place until just recently,” said Martinez on Friday.
The night of the incident, the governor told police her group was not throwing bottles from the balcony or causing noise problems. She told both the dispatch supervisor and an officer on scene that if anyone had been throwing bottles, it was hours earlier. Friday night, her spokesman said snowballs had been thrown from the room’s balcony earlier the night of the party.
“It was so quiet where we were, everybody was seated, eating and so I just wanted to know because the complaint was that snowballs were being thrown while we were there and that wasn’t happening,” said the governor.
Before conducting interviews, the Governor’s Office issued a statement Friday afternoon. It incorrectly says that the governor was called by police as they inquired about the complaint. In fact, hotel staff placed the call and handed the phone to the governor at her request. News 13 asked Sanchez, the governor’s spokesman, about the error and will update this if he responds.
Here is the statement in its entirety:
On Saturday evening, the Governor held her annual staff holiday party in a hotel ballroom. There was a live band, food, dancing, and more than 200 guests.
The Governor spent most of the time dancing with her husband, Chuck, and the many children who attended with their parents. Once the band wrapped up for the night and the Governor and staff helped clean up the ballroom, she and Chuck went to a staff member’s private room to eat pizza along with several other guests.
Unbeknownst to the Governor, there had been complaints about noise and someone throwing what turned out to be snowballs from the balcony of that room earlier in the night while the governor was in the ballroom.
While the Governor was in the hotel room, she was informed a complaint had been recently made, and was also made aware of the earlier complaints. At that time, the other guests left and the Governor went downstairs to the front desk to find out more information about the complaints and assure the hotel staff that those who had caused those issues had long ago left, and there was no longer a problem.
While she was downstairs, she took a call from the Santa Fe Police to inquire about and respond to the complaints. The State Police detail was present with the Governor and believed the situation was under control.
The Governor and her family left and went home shortly thereafter. Governor Martinez regrets the way this situation was handled by her and her staff and will further address that later today.
–Chris Sanchez, spokesman for Governor Susana Martinez