Thursday, June 6, 2013

Email Investigation Documents Show More Involved

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican 
June 6, 2013

For some reason, my story on the newly unsealed affidavits in the governor's email case case didn't make it to the New Mexican's web site. I'm posting it below:

A Democratic political consultant communicated regularly with Republican Gov. Susana Martinez’s former campaign manager and her former personal assistant, according to documents unsealed Wednesday by federal authorities. The FBI says the three also shared Martinez emails that allegedly were intercepted illegally.

The affidavits are part of the federal government’s case against Jamie Estrada, Martinez’s former campaign manager, who was indicted last week on charges that he illegally obtained Martinez emails and lied to the FBI.

Estrada, who is scheduled to be arraigned June 17 at the federal courthouse in Albuquerque, has said he didn’t break any laws.

Jason Loera, the Democratic consultant, was arrested this week on three counts of possessing child pornography. An affidavit unsealed Wednesday confirmed that authorities found pornographic images of young children on computer discs at Loera’s home after confiscating his computers and other equipment in November while searching for evidence in the hijacked-emails investigation.

Loera’s lawyer, Brian Newman, told The Associated Press he had no comment and hadn’t seen the unsealed affidavits.

FBI agents in November also searched the Rio Rancho home of Martinez’s former assistant, Anissa Galassini Ford, who allegedly received emails from an account controlled by Loera. Ford has not been charged with any crime.

During an interview with FBI agents, Martinez identified Estrada and Ford as people with possible motives for intercepting her emails. According to the affidavits, Martinez told the FBI that both had left her campaign under “unfavorable circumstances.” 

Estrada has disputed that he was fired and earlier this week released documents showing that Martinez and her campaign kept in contact with him and included him in some campaign functions.

One of the affidavits said Ford had worked as Martinez’s personal assistant until November 2010, which is when Martinez was elected governor.

“During a review of evidence seized from Estrada’s residence, numerous text messages, chat conversations and emails were identified between Estrada, Ford and Jason Loera which confirm [they] know each other and communicate on a regular basis,” one of the documents said.

Another person included in some of the emails from Loera, according to one of the affidavits, was Bruce Wetherbee of Independent Source PAC, a union-funded group that has been highly critical of Martinez and which released many of the emails.

Wetherbee said Wednesday he knew Loera but said he couldn’t talk about any possible sources of the campaign emails. He said a statement about the matter would be posted on the PAC’s website. It hadn’t been posted as of Wednesday evening.

According to the affidavits, the FBI got a break in the case from an email made public last September by Sam Bregman, the Albuquerque lawyer who this year was elected state Democratic Party chairman. Bregman included the email in legal documents he filed in an appeal of a state Corrections Department employee’s firing. 

The email had been sent to Martinez from her former deputy chief of staff, Ryan Cangliosi. That email indicated that it had been forwarded to Bregman from an account called

The name is similar to “Omar Ravenhurst,” a pen name used by the late Kerry Thornley, a 1960s counter-culture writer, conspiracy buff and acquaintance of Lee Harvey Oswald.

After executing a warrant to search Google records of that account, the FBI learned that Loera was behind

Before the latest batch of search warrant documents were released in the Estrada case, Martinez took to her Facebook account to post a lengthy statement about the email investigation, attacking some of her political opponents.

Martinez in the statement pointed out that Loera was involved in a political action committee headed by Bregman. “Bregman was very active in trying to use the emails to attack me,” she said.
One of the search-warrant affidavits pointed out that Loera had been paid by Bregman’s PAC, Grassroots New Mexico, and had made a contribution to the PAC. Bregman on Wednesday declined to comment to The New Mexican or The Associated Press.

The Associated Press reported Wednesday that during a news conference in Rio Rancho on wildfires, Martinez said she was troubled by Bregman’s possible involvement in the email case, saying, “I think the public deserves to know what he knew, when he knew it and how much he knew.”

On her Facebook posting, the governor also ripped into one of the Democrats who has declared plans to run against her next year, writing that, “Some of the stolen emails included things such as bank account information, receipts for clothing, and political strategy memos. Those personal emails were released to be publicized by New Mexico Attorney General and Democratic candidate for governor Gary King. Afterward, King claimed he had no idea there was an ongoing FBI investigation despite the fact it had been very publicly reported in the media.”

King said in an interview Wednesday that under the state Inspection of Public Records Act he had no choice but to release the emails, which had been requested by the Santa Fe Reporter and others, including a Republican activist. King said the records act does not have any exceptions for the type of “personal” information Martinez complained about.

“Does the governor believe the attorney general shouldn’t follow the law if it’s something she doesn’t want released?” he said.

Although there had been reports in newspapers about the FBI looking into the governor’s emails, he said the FBI never contacted him about it — until after he released the emails.

King took issue with the notion that he had interfered with the FBI’s investigation. “It looks like they got their man,” he said, referring to Estrada.