Analyzing Martinez’s ad: Both candidates spin facts
Call it a spinfest.
Susana Martinez’s new TV ad attacking Diane Denish in the governor’s race is misleading because it exaggerates Denish’s authority over the state’s Children, Youth and Families Department. But that’s at least in part because Denish has overstated her role in CYFD affairs in the past.
First the facts. Denish, a Democrat, and her office have no authority of CYFD, its policies, or its administration. Denish, in her role as lieutenant governor, heads the New Mexico Children’s Cabinet, which brings together various state agencies that work with children, including CYFD, to encourage communication and coordination and to report to the governor and Legislature on children’s issues.
In that context, Denish’s office put out a news release in 2006, as the governor was seeking a new cabinet secretary for CYFD. It stated that Denish planned to review “policies, structure and personnel in an effort to both create a smooth transition for outgoing Secretary Mary Dale Bolson’s replacement and to consider retooling the department to make it more responsive to the needs of New Mexico’s children and families.”
“I intend to review everything, from budget to structure to the management team in an attempt to ensure New Mexicans are getting the best service from this key department,” Denish said in that news release.
“Denish will meet today with key cabinet secretaries who interact regularly with CYFD to create a transition structure for the as-yet unnamed incoming CYFD secretary. She will also go over the department’s budget and management structure,” the release stated. “On Wednesday, Denish will meet with some CYFD staff to get input from them on how the department can be aligned to better meet the challenges of the state.”
So Denish announced that she was playing a key role not just in helping find a new cabinet secretary but also in reviewing “everything” with the goal of considering “retooling the department to make it more responsive to the needs of New Mexico’s children and families.”
Did that really happen? Here’s what the Denish campaign said on Wednesday:
“Denish undertook a review of CYFD in 2006, but the effort was primarily undertaken to identify a new cabinet secretary and appropriate leadership personnel for the department in the wake of the resignation of the prior secretary and members of her leadership team.”
As I just pointed out, that’s only half of what Denish’s 2006 news release said was behind the review.
So, armed with the spin from Denish’s 2006 news release, Martinez, a Republican, took the spin to a whole new level in her new ad.
“A department in Denish’s cabinet gave sanctuary to criminal illegals like child molester Juan Gonzalez,” the ad’s announcer states. “Denish promised to review their policies. But the sanctuary policy stayed. So did Juan Gonzalez. And he just attacked another child. Now Denish claims she knew nothing, after promising to review everything.”
The ad implies that “Denish’s cabinet” – the Children’s Cabinet – somehow has authority over CYFD, which isn’t true. And it makes the leap that if Denish had ended the policy in 2006 – which she didn’t have authority to do in the first place – Gonzalez might have been deported and not been in the United States to rape a girl last month.
That’s quite a leap.
Denish now says she wasn’t aware of the policy and, had she become aware of it in 2006, would have opposed it.
Neither gives us the ‘full story’
I found this quote from Martinez about her new ad interesting:
“The reality is that Denish wants to take credit for anything deemed positive that took place during the Richardson/Denish Administration, while conveniently ducking responsibility and ignoring the abundance of glaring problems. New Mexicans deserve the full story and we certainly deserve better.”
The first part of that statement might have some truth in it, in that Denish did overstate her involvement in reviewing and reforming CYFD. On the flip side, Martinez certainly hasn’t done anything to give us the “full story” in this ad.
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