March 14, 2023

Domestic dispute involving GOP senator ignites water cooler talk at Roundhouse

Matthew Reichbach

By Daniel J. Chacón, The Santa Fe New Mexican

A day after salacious allegations of a domestic disturbance involving Sen. Cliff Pirtle became public, it seemed to be business at usual Tuesday in the Senate.

Pirtle, R-Roswell, who was the subject of an investigation by Santa Fe County sheriff’s deputies Sunday stemming from a verbal fight with his wife, attended the Senate’s afternoon and evening floor sessions, as well as committee hearings.

The day before, Pirtle kept a low profile and missed most of the floor session as a story about the confrontation with his wife was about to become public.

Pirtle’s wife told deputies she caught her husband in bed with another woman in a home he is renting in the 1900 block of Goodrich Plaza Drive in Agua Fría village, igniting a verbal confrontation that turned physical for a moment when she shoved him in the shoulder, according to law enforcement documents.

Though no lawmakers brought up the incident in public and Pirtle went about his day, the dispute dominated the talk in the hallways of the Roundhouse.

Rumors continued to swirl over the identity of the woman Pirtle’s wife allegedly found him with Sunday morning. Pirtle did not respond to a text message asking whether the woman referenced in law enforcement documents is a legislative staffer or lobbyist, which could trigger an ethics inquiry.

A sheriff’s deputy who interviewed Pirtle’s wife asked if she knew the woman’s identity. She provided a first name but wasn’t certain, saying it was “possibly” that name, the document states.

A legislative staffer with the same first name denied a relationship with the lawmaker.

“It wasn’t me,” she said. “It’s quite the rumor mill around here.”

Follow Daniel J. Chacón on Twitter @danieljchacon.