SANTA FE (KRQE) - A heated exchange between two state representatives escalated Wednesday with the Democrat, in an apparent reference to Gov. Susana Martinez, accusing the Republican of "carrying the Mexican's water."
The flare-up between Rep. Sheryl Williams Stapleton, D-Albuquerque, and Rep. Rep. Nora Espinoza, R-Roswell happened at a meeting of the Legislative Education Study Committee at the state Capitol.
Both legislators serve on the committee.
The argument stemmed from a Larry Barker News 13 investigation in late October that revealed Stapleton, who is also a Albuquerque Public Schools administrator, was violating APS policy by collecting her district salary while also receiving daily pay during the annual session the Legislature.
News 13 found Stapleton pocketed more than $160,000 in APS pay while attending the Legislature over the years. But instead of punishing Stapleton or making her pay the money back, APS Superintendent Winston Brooks changed APS policy after the fact to allow it.
The move drew a lot of fire including from Espinoza who jumped into the fray. She called for an investigation into Brooks' actions even saying Brooks was "covering corruption."
Stapleton told The New Mexico Watchdog that she believes Espinoza was set up by people in the governor's office to criticize Stapleton for opposing many of the governor's education reform bills.
With that as background, Stapleton on Wednesday accused Espinosa of "carrying the Mexican's water on the Fourth Floor."
The term "carrying water" commonly applies to a junior politician acting at the behest of a senior one, and in New Mexico politics "Fourth Floor" is an accepted reference to the governor's office, which is on the top floor of the Capitol.
Stapleton told News 13 she was not referring to anyone when she made the statement.
"The term 'Mexican' was not appropriate," Stapleton said. "However, I didn't mean that term in a derogatory way."
But Stapleton told the El Paso Times that she did not regret calling the governor a Mexican, telling reporters she meant nothing by it and stating, "I am half-black and half-Spanish."
Espinoza said the comment was uncalled for.
"Why that comment?" she said. "That comment was uncalled for, totally uncalled for.
"I was surprised and shocked she even made that comment. I mean, I'm Hispanic and I was just shocked she made the comment."
The governor's office said it was saddened and disappointed by Stapleton's remarks but did not have any other comment.
An Albuquerque Police officer involved shooting over the weekend marks the fifth since late October and city officials are taking notice.
A woman was stolen from her daughter's car, a woman who died more than five years ago.
Albuquerque police shot and killed a man Sunday night after responding to an assault call near UNM.
Deputies were led on a chase around 4 p.m. Monday after a person called 911 to report their vehicle had been stolen and was being driven recklessly around Albuquerque.
New Mexico could have hundreds of millions of dollars more to spend as legislators get ready to put together next year's budget in the upcoming legislative session.
Organizers of the Gildan New Mexico Bowl are hoping to shed the disappointing attendance numbers that weighed down the event last year when the Colorado State Rams and the Washington State Cougars face off Dec. 21.