20 June 2012
Barela Bluffs On Role In Email Scandal
Governor’s Email Scandal Broadens As Two Cabinet Secretaries
Are Discovered Using Private Email To Conduct State Business
SANTA FE — The Martinez administration’s private email scandal expands, as more emails are uncovered and ex-Cabinet secretary Lupe Martinez claims that using private emails to conduct state business was an approved administration policy. Independent Source PAC first reported that members of the Martinez administration used private email addresses to conduct state business, thereby shielding such correspondence from the public eye. By using private emails for political purposes, cabinet members and others within the Martinez administration were able to negotiate backroom arrangements that were almost untraceable by the public. Almost.
Adding to the administration’s catalog of misconduct on this issue, ProgressNow New Mexico has discovered evidence of two more cabinet secretaries using their private email addresses to conduct state business. Economic Development Secretary Jon Barela and Department of Cultural Affairs Secretary Veronica Gonzales conducted correspondence with other government officials within the Martinez administration about some of the state’s most high-profile matters like Spaceport America, jobs reports, and the film industry.
These emails could be obtained only because a government employee properly replied to an email exchange between Ryan Cangiolosi, Keith Gardener and others using his government email address, thereby opening the exchange up to public information requests. A similar situation led to the emails from Veronica Gonzales being subject to public information requests.
For example, on May 6, 2012, Jon Barela was instructed to defend his approval of a number of contracts “by 5:00pm today” by the governor’s Deputy Chief of Staff Ryan Cangiolosi. This exchange was conducted using private email addresses. The correspondence was sent to Jon Barela’s personal email and Cangiolosi was writing at the direction of the Governor’s Chief of Staff Keith Gardner.
In an Albuquerque Journal article published this morning, Barela is quoted as saying he does not recall being instructed by Gardner, or the governor, to conduct state business on private email accounts.
From the Albuquerque Journal article:
“It just has not happened to my knowledge,” Barela said.
Barela also said he does not use a private email account for official state business matters.
The facts, however, prove otherwise.
Not only does this off-the-record correspondence provide more evidence of the pervasive use of personal emails in an attempt to avoid a written record that can be investigated, it demonstrates the Martinez administration’s ongoing attempt to undermine New Mexico’s movie industry.
We have also received another email wherein Secretary Veronica Garcia emails Thelma Dominici, a person seeking a state contract at the National Hispanic Cultural Center, asking for specific information to ensure smooth passage of a contract to Ms. Dominici. (View the correspondence from Secretary Gonzales and Secretary Barela below.)
Sending email communications on private email addresses makes it almost impossible for citizens and journalists to obtain information through the state’s Inspection of Public Records Act. (“Sorry, we have no record of this conversation.”) These emails add two more agencies to the growing list of those who likely violated New Mexico’s Public Records Acts (see the AG’s Compliance Guide).