Taxpayers spent more than $27,000 this year to send Gov. Susana Martinez, her staff and state police security detail on 11 out-of-state trips between the end of the legislative session in mid-March and early June.
This is according to information The New Mexican received late last week from the Governor's Office and the Department of Finance and Administration in response to a public records request.
The lion's share of the expense -- $24,021 of the $27,169 -- was for transportation, lodging and food for the governor's state police security team. Another $2,479 paid for the travel expenses of the governor's staff who accompanied her to the various out-of-state events. Only $668 was spent on Martinez herself for these 11 trips. Most of her expenses were paid for by her re-election campaign or by organizations who invited her to the various events.
The out-of-state travel during the time period of the records request reflects Martinez's status as a rising national star in the Republican Party. Her travel this spring included a trip to Rome in March as part of the U.S. delegation to attend the installation of the new pope, as well as a trip to Washington, D.C., for the Cinco de Mayo celebration at the invitation of Vice President Joe Biden.
There are also several out-of-state speeches and conferences included in the total. And in some cases, the state paid travel expenses for staff and security for campaign fundraising events for Martinez.
For instance, at a Washington, D.C., gala in early June, Martinez raised $220,000 for her re-election campaign, according to The Hill, a Washington publication that covers Congress. While her campaign paid for Martinez's travel expenses, taxpayers paid $6,460 for transportation, lodging and food for her state police security detail, plus $948 for transportation for the governor's staff members.
How much Martinez raised for her campaign at other events won't be known until she files her next campaign finance report, due Oct. 15. She is seeking election to a second four-year term next year.
Martinez isn't the first governor to travel with staff and security to out-of-state political events. Her predecessor, Bill Richardson, spent a huge part of 2007 in Iowa, New Hampshire and other states campaigning unsuccessfully for the Democratic presidential nomination.
During that campaign, a Richardson spokesman told the Associated Press that New Mexico taxpayers covered the salaries of Richardson's security team on campaign trips, but his political committee paid for other travel expenses of his police detail.
Information released on Martinez's trips in the spring included:
--March 16-20: Martinez traveled to Rome as part of the official U.S. delegation to the installation of Pope Francis.
--March 21-22: Martinez attended a meeting of the Republican Governors Association in Utah, plus Lobos and Aggies basketball games at the NCAA Tournament in Salt Lake City.
--April 11: The governor had a campaign fundraiser in Denver as well as a meeting with the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry.
--April 18-21 : Martinez was the top-billed speaker at the Republican Jewish Coalition's Spring Leadership Meeting in Las Vegas, Nev., along with House Speaker John Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. The meeting was held at the Venetian, a hotel and casino owned by Sheldon Adelson, a major Republican benefactor.
--April 21-23: The governor went to a fundraiser in Palm Springs, Calif.
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