Thursday, June 14, 2012

More Administration Emails on Personal Accounts Unearthed

A version of this will be published in The Santa Fe New Mexican 
June 15 2012

More emails from various members of Gov. Susana Martinez’s administration conducting state business and sent to officials via personal, non-government email accounts — including one email from the governor herself — emerged on Thursday.

The emails all come from the case file of a wrongful termination case being handled by Albuquerque lawyer Sam Bregman, a prominent Democrat.

Gov. Susana Martinez & Chief of Staff Keith Gardner
Gov. Martinez, Chief of Staff Keith Gardner behind her
The emails mostly deal with Corrections Department business in August 2011. Most of the administration officials, including the governor, sent or received messages on their accounts. Susana PAC is Martinez’s political action committee.

Martinez’s spokesman, Scott Darnell, said Thursday that “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.

“As you know, we send and receive hundreds of emails out of the Governor’s Office every day and have produced thousands of pages of emails in response to [Inspection of Public Records Act] requests about the actions taken by the administration,” Darnell said.

Gwyneth Doland, executive director of the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government, said Thursday, “I am horrified to think that it may be the practice of the state of New Mexico to conduct public business in secret using email accounts that no records custodian could access.

“This is absolutely unacceptable to think the public’s right to know is being so brazenly violated. I’m shocked to hear that this is coming from a governor so [publicly] supportive of transparency.”

Earlier this week, an email from the personal account of a Public Education Department spokesman in response to a public information request by Martinez’s political director, Jay McCleskey, was made public. That message also was sent to other administration officials at their non-government accounts.

Bregman on Thursday said, “This administration had the audacity of running a campaign on the issue of transparency, but they’re the most secretive, covert government in the history of the state. Shame on the governor for conducting state business with her cronies on private emails.”

Darnell said of Bregman,  “Keep in mind that this information is coming to you from the attorney of a former state employee who has an incentive to try to create issues where there are none.”

The message from the governor is dated Aug. 14, 2011, and had the subject line “Mansfield Escapee.” It was sent to her chief of staff, Keith Gardner; deputy chief of staff, Ryan Cangiolosi; Darnell; operations director, Alexia Darnell; Duffy Rodriguez, who is deputy secretary of the Department of Finance & Administration (all on addresses); and to McCleskey. Cangiolosi forwarded it the next day to former Corrections Secretary Lupe Martinez and to Gardner, again from and to non-government emails.

David Mansfield, an inmate at the state prison in Los Lunas, had escaped from a prison farm Aug. 13. He was captured the next day.

In her email, the governor is talking about a report, apparently about the escape. “I have painfully gone over this report and I have questions,” she wrote. “I have also provided INSTRUCTIONS ... These have deadlines. These are not suggestions. I want my questions answered on this same document by the Corrections Department,” she wrote. “... I want responses to my questions no later than Tuesday, August 17, 2011 at 5 p.m.”

Why was McCleskey included in the email? “It’s likely due to the fact that he is an adviser to the governor, and like many governors, she seeks broad input on situations,” said Scott Darnell.

There’s also a lengthy email dated Aug. 10, 2011, from Janel Causey, director of policy administration on her account to former Corrections Secretary Lupe Martinez and Tax & Revenue Secretary Demesia Padilla (on their private accounts). It was copied to Cangiolosi and another person (whose identity can’t be determined from his or her Gmail address).

In this message, Causey wanted to know about prison inmates who have no Social Security numbers but do have driver’s licenses. It appears she is gathering information about the issue of driver’s licenses being issued to noncitizens. The email lists the convictions for these inmates.

However, some of the initial information Causey received from the agencies didn’t pan out. “We have now gone to the governor with incorrect information … We need to get this cleared up right away,” she wrote.

Another email is dated Aug. 16, 2011, from Cangiolosi’s assistant, Tiffany Smyth, from her personal account to the former Corrections secretary at her personal account. Smyth said Gov. Martinez wanted to see lists of warden candidates before they are hired. “We would like to do a bit of vetting on our end before the hiring has taken place,” Smyth wrote.