“Going to try not to release expenses unless we get waterboarded into it.” – Jay McCleskey, 2011
She was once one of Susana Martinez’s most trusted advisors. One of the few people in the soon-to-be-governor’s inner circle, she was also the one who kept up with all of the money coming in and going out. Now Andrea Goff has shared the emails, documents and details behind the governor’s inauguration that launched an FBI investigation that we now know went all the way to the highest levels of the US Department of Justice in Washington, DC. Today, the Santa Fe New Mexican’s Justin Horwath details those allegations in 2,300 word front-page story. For those who (like us) have followed the close-knit circle of advisors, shell corporations and investigations into them, it is definitely worth the lengthy read.
A report last week announced that, “New Mexico’s economy is stagnant, largely because of the state’s reputation for corruption and crony capitalism and an environment that fosters pay to play behavior.” Now, there’s yet another story about Susana Martinez’s shady dealings, this time about her using her political power to bail out a big campaign donor. Crony capitalism at its finest worst. New Mexico’s reputation has taken a hit in many ways under Martinez’s administration, but perceptions of deep-seated corruption have been present from her very first day in office. Perceptions turned into proven reality starting last year as Martinez’s Tax and Revenue secretary began to be investigated, her friend Dianna Duran became a convicted felon, and her top-advisor came under FBI scrutiny.
In this weekend’s Santa Fe New Mexican, Veteran New Mexico political reporter Milan Simonich penned a column comparing the education record of Susana Martinez with Democratic challenger Gary King’s new education plan. The whole piece is worth a read, but a few pieces are worth extra note. For starters, Susana Martinez isn’t running on her own record, even on her keystone issue of education. Instead she’s still running against Bill Richardson, four years after she ran against him in her first race even though he wasn’t on the ballot then either:
The incumbent, Republican Susana Martinez, has been busy pummeling her predecessor, Democrat Bill Richardson, who left office in December 2010. Martinez’s publicist last week sent out statements saying the Democratic candidate for governor, Gary King, wants to adopt Richardson’s “failed policies” on education.
26 June 2012by Alex Curtas, ProgressNow NM Governor’s Lack of Transparency Goes Deeper Than Just EmailsRequests for Public Information are Made Difficult as Public Information is Denied to PublicALBUQUERQUE – Though the recent “Emailgate” scandal has highlighted the Martinez administration’s lack of transparency, shielding public information from the citizens of New Mexico is not limited to the improper email correspondence that has recently surfaced. ProgressNow New Mexico has been engaged in an ongoing attempt to obtain official schedules and visitor logs from the Governor’s Office in an effort to determine where our public officials go and with whom they meet. We have been told, in response to these requests, that “The Office of the Governor does not have or maintain any visitor logs,” nor does it maintain official schedules for any key staff.When requesting information, for example, about Chief of Staff Keith Gardner’s official record of who he meets with in his public office to discuss matters of public concern, we were told that because Mr. Gardner’s actual schedule might not exactly correspond to his contemplated schedule, the public therefore has no right to any of the information about those appointments, meetings, etc.The response from the Governor’s Office concerning Keith Gardner’s official schedule continues:Furthermore, any notes or preliminary materials maintained by Keith Gardner regarding preliminary or tentative appointments or meetings are not public records…Those notes and preliminary materials do not share the degree of finality contemplated by IPRA, “and generally are not intended to perpetuate, formalize, or communicate information for or on behalf of the public agency,” nor do they accurately reflect Keith Gardner’s actual scheduleThis refrain is eerily similar to the one used by members of the Martinez administration when commenting on why state business was being conducted with private email accounts. According to Steve Terrell at the Santa Fe New Mexican:Last week, in response to my questions about several emails showing the administration was using personal email accounts to communicate about routine business, spokesman Scott Darnell said, “the types of communications in personal email accounts fall into categories that are not required to be maintained – preliminary in nature, do not reflect final action, etc. Final agency action is conducted through official state email or other correspondence and maintained.” Such a policy effectively hides every meeting conducted with government officials from public view and such rigid interpretations of what classifies as “public information” places an undue burden on members of the public who wish to obtain information about their government.In light of the recent email scandals, it is important to note that the Governor’s Office does not deny that Gardner keeps a schedule or calendar, only that what he keeps is private, even when discussing public business. Like their first attempts to explain away the email problems, this answer smells fishy.”Despite efforts by the Martinez administration to make government more open and accountable, there are many aspects of state government that remain hidden from public view,” said Pat Davis, Executive Director of ProgressNow New Mexico. “Using private email accounts to shield state business from the public is bad enough, but at least the governor has made an effort to change course.