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Thursday, August 26, 2010

NM Sen. Mary Jane Garcia Denies Susana Martinez's Role in So-Called 'Baby Brianna' Child Abuse Legislation

Susana Martinez's "Baby Brianna" ad

New Mexico State Senator Mary Jane Garcia (D-Doña Ana-36) issued a press release late this afternoon dedicated to what she calls "setting the record straight" about GOP gubernatorial candidate Susana Martinez's claim of responsibility for passage of legislation Martinez has been calling the "Baby Briana Act." Martinez has been making claims in a political ad that has been airing frequently over the past several weeks about her intimate, three-year involvement with a bill enacted in 2005 that provides for a life sentence for deadly child abusers (see above).

Senator Mary Jane Garcia was, in fact, the sponsor of a bill (SB 166), entitled "Life Sentences for Deadly Child Abuse," that was passed by the New Mexico Legislature and signed into law in 2005. In today's statement, Sen. Garcia states unreservedly that the only real involvement she believes Martinez had in the entire three-year process was her attendance at "a house committee and senate committee as SB 166 was debated" in 2005, the year it finally passed. Sen. Garcia also makes it clear that the bill in question was never called the "Baby Brianna Act" because her legislation was meant to protect all of New Mexico's children.

Sen. Garcia's statement closes with this request directed at Susana Martinez:

I encourage Susana Martinez to stop misrepresenting her role in SB 166 and stop exploiting the murder of Briana Lopez in her campaign. Please let that little angel rest in peace.

Below in text and here in PDF format is the entire statement released by Sen. Mary Jane Garcia about Susana Martinez's claims about her involvement in the legislation. It's powerful, and certainly damning in terms of Martinez's lack of honesty, ethics and sensitivity in trying to use this matter to gain political points -- especially coming from the bill's sponsor. 

August 26, 2010, Senator Mary Jane Garcia Press Release:

I want to set the record straight.

After the 2002 murder of Briana Lopez, an infant from Las Cruces, I set out on a mission to pass a law that would protect New Mexico children from criminal child abuse. I worked diligently for three years, bringing people together, negotiating, and listening, to different stakeholders with the goal of passing legislation that would be acceptable to the majority of my colleagues. An early attempt failed to pass. During the three year period I was moving forward with legislation, I was never contacted by Susana Martinez with input.

During the past month I have been contacted by numerous people asking me to comment on Martinez’s political statements that claim credit for the “Baby Briana Act.” There is no such law titled the “Baby Briana Act.”

The law, to which Martinez is referring, is SB 166 which I sponsored in the 2005 regular legislative session. It was signed into law by Governor Richardson. The title of the signed legislation, SB 166, is “Life Sentences for Deadly Child Abuse.” The name of Briana Lopez or baby Briana Act does not exist in the statute. It was never my intention to put the name of any child on the bill because it was done for all children in New Mexico.

In 2005, during the debate of SB 166, there were countless advocates from around the state that supported the legislation and testified during the committee hearings in Santa Fe. Martinez claims she had worked for three years on the legislation; however, it was only in 2005 (the year the bill was passed) that I remember her in Santa Fe, merely observing in a house committee and senate committee as SB 166 was debated.

In my opinion, campaign advertisements should not depict the gruesome details of the murder of a child in order to score political points and get votes. There are a myriad of issues that voters are anxious to hear about from both gubernatorial candidates. The public wants answers—straight answers—not political rhetoric and sound bites.

I encourage Susana Martinez to stop misrepresenting her role in SB 166 and stop exploiting the murder of Briana Lopez in her campaign. Please let that little angel rest in peace.

Mary Jane Garcia

August 26, 2010 at 06:44 PM in 2010 NM Governor's Race, Children and Families, Crime, Ethics & Campaign Reform, Political Ads, Susana Martinez | Permalink


My God this Susana has no shame. To lie and pretend she did the bill is so bad I dont know what to say. How can she look at herself in the mirror? I change the channel every time her baby Brianna ad comes on because it is using pictures of the baby to sell herself. What kind of person does that?

Posted by: Ines | Aug 26, 2010 7:29:09 PM

@Ines: A psychopath.

Posted by: Proud Democrat | Aug 26, 2010 7:58:39 PM

This news should mark Martinez as a liar from here on out. Didn't she think anyone would step up and challenge her on her claims? She must think nobody will hear about it or won't believe Sen Garcia. Send this article to everyone you know!

Posted by: Sal | Aug 26, 2010 8:12:09 PM

I disliked that ad from the first time I saw it. Now we know it is a lie and it is even worse. What does it have to do with being a good governor anyway?

Posted by: Sean | Aug 26, 2010 8:48:29 PM

Take that, Swiftboat liar! Way to go, Sen. Garcia! More like this, please!

Posted by: Proud Democrat | Aug 26, 2010 8:50:30 PM

Ready... fire... aim?

Richardson said at the signing he would have rejected a weakened version of the bill. He credited legislators, the community of Las Cruces and 3rd Judicial District Attorney Susana Martinez, who pushed for the passage of the legislation. "They did it by persisting," he said.

Martinez said she made about seven trips to Santa Fe during the session to support the law. She organized four trips to the capitol for community members to voice their concerns. About 100 people were bused from Las Cruces the first time.

Posted by: BGar | Aug 26, 2010 9:42:58 PM

Forgot the source on the above quote from Governor Richardson praising Susana for helping pass this legislation. Here it is so you guys can look it up.

(Tougher penalties for abuse now law, Las Cruces Sun News, 3/31/05).

Posted by: BGar | Aug 26, 2010 9:46:47 PM

I think the sponsor of the bill knows best. When Gov. Richardson signs bills he thanks practically everyone in New Mexico as I have witnessed myself. I'm sure he thanked her because she is a DA from the county where the bill originated with Sen. Garcia.

Where is any record of Martinez testifying or advocating on behalf of the bill? I have heard many stories about Martinez taking credit for other people's work. It's part of who she is. Bad trait at a time like this.

Posted by: Luis | Aug 26, 2010 10:00:19 PM

Sun News editorial...

Praise the Legislature. They did the right thing by passing the bill that toughens penalties for convicted child abusers.

Three people deserve recognition for their efforts in seeing this bill through < Sen. Garcia, Rep. Joe Cervantes and District Attorney Susana Martinez.

And Martinez' tireless organizing of caravans of concerned citizens to Santa Fe certainly should be noted. It's tough for legislators to look the public in the eye and then vote against their wishes.
(Editorial, Well done, legislators, LC Sun News, 3/18/05)

Posted by: BGar | Aug 26, 2010 10:18:53 PM

Well of course the local newspaper would praise their legislators and the DA. That doesn't mean she advocated at committee meetings for 3 years or was involved in the nitty gritty, or did much of anything other than have her name on efforts to bus people there. She was no doubt included out of courtesy to the office for one thing.

Regardless, using photos of the badly beaten baby in a political ad is so uncouth as to be below contempt. I wouldn't vote for her if she were the last candidate on the face of the earth.

Posted by: Luis | Aug 26, 2010 10:24:24 PM

Why doesn't Susana mention who sponsored the bill, voted for the bill and signed the bill in her ad? She acts like she did it all herself and that is not true. I have heard other stories of how she acts. She doesn't deserve to be gov. She blows things up to make herself look important.

Posted by: dona ana county voter | Aug 26, 2010 10:28:53 PM

Luis, c'mon... You asked for proof that she was advocating for this bill, and you have it. President Obama (did you see what Senator Garcia said about him?) is a community organizer and apparently that is looked very favorably on in Democratic circles. Susana organizes bus loads of people to go to Santa Fe to fight for legislation and you discredit it. Shameful.

Posted by: BGar | Aug 26, 2010 10:33:28 PM

Luis, she says "We went to the legislature ..." not "I went the legislature."

Posted by: BGar | Aug 26, 2010 10:38:25 PM

And Mary Jane Garcia is a credible source??? On what planet?


“And this summer, Democratic state Sen. Mary Jane Garcia of Dona Ana told a Denver newspaper, ‘I don't know one single Hispanic over 50 who will cast a vote for Obama. There have always been conflicts between blacks and browns.’”

Posted by: Come On | Aug 26, 2010 10:39:11 PM

Martinez never testified on the bill's behalf, never wrote an editorial and now, lies and takes credit for the whole thing. That shows very poor character. What kind of person would use pictures of a beat up baby in an ad? Susana did and it makes me sick.

Posted by: LC casa | Aug 26, 2010 11:57:06 PM

Pobresita Mary Jane...look, I'm not voting for Martinez, but we all know here in Las Cruces that viejita Mary Jane barely knows where to find her car keys yet alone remember what she said 5 years ago. Everytime I see her car on the road I get far far away!

Mary Jane needed to retire a long time ago. She says crazy things all the time.

Posted by: Vaquero | Aug 27, 2010 12:30:15 AM

The Martinez campaign spinners are out in force. While they're here maybe they can explain why Susana posed with a bunch of fake cops in another one of her TV ads. The Martinez campaign is based on lies, exaggerations and attempted smears.

Posted by: j.n. | Aug 27, 2010 8:59:11 AM

I do not believe for a single moment that SB 166, "baby Brianna's law" could have prevented the child's brutal short life and murder had the law existed before the incident. It will do nothing to stop the mentally deranged from harming the helpless in the future. Passing the law may make us all feel better and satisfy our craving for revenge and perhaps appeal to our sense of justice for the deserving, but prevent it? I doubt it. The law will not protect children except to put the deranged out of commission for the crime of murder for life.
It seems that the Democratic legislature and Gov. Richardson should be the ones taking credit for this gesture of public appeasement. Since the law was passed under Gov. Richardson's watch, he should be taking full credit. I give him all the credit as a matter of fact and he should be stealing the undeserved thunder from Martinez rather than Mary Jane Garcia having to set the record straight.
As for Martinez' shameless exploitation of the dramatic pain of others? It is craven, cynical and distasteful. It displays an extreme lack of respect for the intelligence of the public by attempting to appeal to the most base reactionary emotions. It shows and extreme lack of respect for the dignity of the deceased child. The child is being further exploited and publicly abused for the sake of gaining political points.
I would call on Martinez to just stop it.

Posted by: qofdisks | Aug 27, 2010 1:41:25 PM

Further more, I want to thank Mary Jane Garcia from the bottom my heart for bringing this exploitation and abuse to light. There should be a criminal penalty for political exploitation of other people's pain and misfortune.

Posted by: qofdisks | Aug 27, 2010 1:46:10 PM

well said gofdisks! perfectly stated.

Posted by: mary ellen | Aug 27, 2010 3:04:17 PM

Gofdisks says it all and with heart.

Posted by: Old Dem | Aug 27, 2010 3:44:26 PM

I am glad Sen. Garcia has spoken up. No matter how you feel about the senator using that baby's death in a political ad to get votes is just wrong. She should be asked to remove the ad.

Posted by: Stephanie DuBois | Aug 28, 2010 9:26:43 AM

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