New Mexico In Depth attempted to ask Gov. Susana Martinez about her reaction to the uncertainty in Washington surrounding the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. President Donald Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress have made it a priority to repeal major provisions.
Any action from Washington would ripple through New Mexico. Early in her term Martinez was one of the few Republican governors across the nation to agree to expand the Medicaid program, which was a major provision of the ACA. Her decision resulted in around 250,000 additional New Mexicans getting health insurance.
But on Thursday the governor and her staff deliberately avoided taking questions from several media outlets, including New Mexico In Depth.
A phalanx of New Mexico State Police officers and state employees formed a circle around Martinez as she walked from the Rotunda to an elevator in one of the Capitol hallways reserved for the state’s chief executive and New Mexico state lawmakers.
I was able to position myself in front of the scrum surrounding the governor and tried to ask her that question. But Martinez said she had to get to her next appointment.
Asked why she would not take questions in one of her rare public appearances at the Roundhouse, one of her staff members responded that the governor appeared publicly around the state all the time.
According to several members of the media, Thursday was the only public appearance by Martinez at the Roundhouse during this year’s legislative session since the governor delivered her state of the state address to the Legislature on Jan. 17.
Martinez has not held a press conference at the Roundhouse since the annual legislative session started, either. She did appear at New Mexico Board of Finance meeting earlier this week but did not take questions from the media.
In some ways Thursday resembled the darkest days of Gov. Bill Richardson’s administration, although Richardson appeared in public much more than Martinez and would take questions. On occasion, his staff would whisk him away from public appearances or press conferences.
Asking questions of governors at the Roundhouse during the annual legislative session is a decades-long tradition for reporters. And in her first couple of years Martinez appeared in public, holding press conferences and even testifying before a legislative committee at least once. In recent legislative sessions, however, Martinez has been noticeably absent, with very few public appearances or press conferences.
Here’s the audio from the question I asked.