SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez on Friday apologized for the actions of her staff during her annual holiday party at a downtown Santa Fe hotel and also said she should have handled it differently.
"I believe in people accepting responsibility and that is why I'm owning (up to) what happened, and I sincerely apologize," Martinez said in a statement.
Authorities have released dispatch tapes from a noise complaint that led police to a hotel room rented by one of Martinez's staff in which the governor can be heard telling dispatchers there was no need to send officers.
Police were called to the fourth floor of the Eldorado Hotel & Spa around 1:30 a.m. Sunday after the front desk reported a complaint about noise and someone throwing things off the balcony.
The audio recordings of the governor's discussion with Santa Fe County dispatchers were released Friday and posted online by media outlets, bloggers and her political opponents.
The governor told a dispatcher she was in the room with her disabled sister and six others.
"We are eating pizza and drinking Cokes, and whoever was throwing bottles is not there, hasn't been there for like six hours," the governor said, while explaining that she had been in the room for only two hours.
Martinez was hosting her annual staff holiday party at the downtown hotel's ballroom that Saturday night, according to a statement from her office. Some 200 people attended; there was a live band and dancing.
After the party, Martinez and staff helped clean up and retired to a staffer's hotel room to eat pizza.
"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," her spokesman Chris Sanchez said.
Martinez learned about the complaints and then went downstairs to assure hotel staff that those who caused the disturbance had left long ago, Sanchez said.
Martinez did demand to know from a hotel clerk, dispatchers and the police commander at the scene who lodged the complaint. She asked if it was another hotel guest. Her requests were repeatedly rebuffed.
"It's public record. Give it to me," she's heard saying during one of the calls.
Martinez told dispatchers they should call off the officers and that there was no need for them to respond to the hotel.
"I want to apologize for the conduct of my staff the night of our holiday party," Martinez said in a statement Friday night. "There was apparently a party in a hotel room earlier in the night that was disruptive. Someone was also throwing snowballs from a balcony. None of that should have happened and I was not aware of the extent of the behavior, until recently. And that behavior is not acceptable.
"I also want to admit that I made a mistake when I went to speak to the receptionist and asked her about the complaint. I should not have gotten involved in trying to resolve the situation, nor should I have spoken to the dispatcher on the phone. I was wrong to speak with them like that, and I apologize," Martinez added. "Ultimately, the situation was under control, but it should have been handled much differently and I am responsible for that."
The nation's only Latina governor, Martinez was recently elected chair of the Republican Governors Association. In 2014, she was elected to a second term as governor by a wide margin. Martinez also serves as the legal guardian for her older sister, who is developmentally disabled.