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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Emailgate: Pat Rogers Is Not Funny; New Batch Of Emails Reveal Back Channel Jokes & Lobbying By GOP Powerhouse, It's Not Pretty, Plus: Romney To Visit NM In August And Readers React To Susana's Approval Rating 

Pat Rogers
Pat Rogers is not funny. That's one judgment that doesn't need too much investigation, not after the release of another spate of emails that reveal the lawyer/lobbyist and GOP national committeeman cracking bad jokes to the Governor's top aides via private email accounts. But even more striking is the blatancy of Rogers, as he lobbies the Guv's high-ranking staff through those accounts. His clients would be proud, the taxpayers and public not so much.

There is an undercurrent of pandering and sordidness to this large batch of emails. And the lobbyist seems to be able to push around the Governor's senior staff like so many pawns on his chess board.

The emails may not disclose anything illegal, but they reveal a cynicism and an insider ball game that Martinez campaigned so vigorously against. And importantly, the emails reveal how a shadow government has formed around Martinez and how Rogers is a key player in it.

The Santa Fe Reporter printed excerpts of the Rogers emails and we've posted all of them here. They were released by the union-funded Independent Source PAC which has been breaking much of the emailgate news.

From the paper:

Rogers’ email is one of a year’s worth of messages sent from the Albuquerque law firm of Modrall Sperling to the private accounts of New Mexico government officials. Most went to key aides to Gov. Martinez, who campaigned for her present office on a platform of transparency and open government but whose administration has been rocked by the discovery of a private email network for conducting state business....

Rogers had emailed (Guv Martinez deputy chief of staff Ryan) Cangiolosi that Rudy Beserra, Coca-Cola’s vice president for Latin affairs, might be calling about the company’s lobbying in New Mexico. “I have been asked where I got the ‘I hate Ryan Cangiolosi shirt[.]’ I have insisted it was a limited run,” Rogers joked. At the same time, though, he clearly wanted a favor.

“[Coca-Cola corporate] are, apparently, of the mind that, perhaps, a Republican NM lobbyist wouldn’t hurt,” Rogers wrote. In a possible reference to Martinez’ political advisor, Jay McCleskey, he added, “As this is unrelated to the poor Hispanic Dr. Pepper girl that Jay hates, I would appreciate a plug if Beserra calls.”

Then there's this email that is not going to help Rogers' image. It's referencing Douglas Howe, a Martinez appointee to the state Public Regulation Commission who is openly gay. Back to the paper:

On Nov. 7, after Gov.  Martinez...named Douglas Howe as Block’s replacement, Rogers forwarded an article about Howe’s appointment to Ryan Cangiolosi, the governor's deputy chief of staff, and Jay McCleskey, the governor's political adviser.


“He promised on his boyfriend’s grave he would support Pat Lyons for Chair, right?” Rogers’ email reads.

“If these emails are genuine, that’s utterly false,” Howe tells SFR. “During the vetting process, I think one of the very last questions the governor’s office asked me is whether I would challenge Commissioner Lyons…” he says. “What I answered was that I wouldn’t promise not to do that—but I thought it was unlikely that I would given that I’d be coming in as a rookie not knowing anything about the internal management of the PRC.”

We found it odd that there is no reaction from Howe about Rogers' homophobic quip that he "promised on his boyfriend's grave." 

THE SHADOW KNOWS

If there had been any doubt about a shadow government being formed in Santa Fe, the emails erase any doubt. In one of them Rogers describes how he is seeking to put together a meeting between Governor Martinez and outgoing UNM President David Schmidly:

It's now time for the Gov and Schmidly to meet. I met with him last week and contacted Jay about setting up a meeting with the Gov and Schmidly.  The Gov is going to have to make sure the next president is serious and capable. Schmidly can assist in that endeavor.

Say what? The Governor's private political adviser--not on the state payroll--is going to be in charge of arranging a meeting between the Governor of New Mexico and the president of the state's largest university?

You might ask: Who put him in charge? Well, ask the Governor.

Rogers has been somewhat of a press darling because of his commitment to transparency in government via his service on the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government. The executive director of that group, Gwyneth Doland, seems nonplussed by Rogers' emails that were clearly meant to influence state policy in favor of his lobbying clients and sent to private email accounts to avoid public and press scrutiny. The paper reports:

....Doland writes in an email that he has “25 years of experience working with open-government and First Amendment laws and is a nationally-recognized expert on the issue,” and in 2006, NMFOG named him Lawyer of the Year.

That's it? No concern about the integrity of NMFOG as a result of emailgate? No debate over whether Pat ought to step aside from FOG while all of this sorts itself out, especially his use of private emails to high government officials regarding the state racino lease for the Downs at ABQ for which he was the attorney?

Heck, Pat, even refused to comment about the emails the Reporter printed. He said:

You have ignored my offers, my questions, my concerns, federal and state law and [the Society of Professional Journalists] ethics rules. That would be my on the record comment.”

Oh, now we get it. Gwyneth and FOG need to keep Pat at their side because he is an expert on journalism. Silly us. We thought there was a problem here.

(Doland says the executive committee of FOG has discussed the issue and asked Rogers for a meeting. Meanwhile, she says he has recused himself from board communications.)

CHASING THE TRUTH

Intrepid KOB-TV investigative report Gadi Schwartz tried to get Rogers to comment on the emails, but the powerful player in the Martinez administration trotted away from the TV cameras, refusing to talk. Maybe Gadi should try emailing Pat. He seems to be quite communicative in that medium.

NO EMAILGATE FOR HIM

Blog reader Michael Winders beats up on us for our coverage of the administration:

Martinez's handlers?? Emailgate?? (Belly laugh). Who handled Richardson...you? I've met the Guv and she is her own woman. She spent two hours with our town's children and there were no handlers present. She also doesn't need a posse like Richardson did. He is a crook who wanted to be a rock star, she is a Governor, and you are the water boy for the Left. ;) 


Thanks for the laugh, Michael. But you are making it too easy. Why would the Governor need handlers when she is entertaining school children? I will give you points on the Richardson posse quip. Martinez travels light and that's a breath of fresh air. But then you lose points by trying to paint us as an ideological hack, acting as the "water boy for the left." Does that mean you can't attack the message so you hit the messenger? You say Martinez, in contrast to Richardson, "is a Governor" but emailgate seems to reveal the direct opposite, with a shadow government calling the shots--not the chief executive. But hey, don't take us too seriously--we're just the water boy, or as we have often put it--the piano player in the whorehouse.

THE NM PREZ RACE

The Dem friendly PPP poll says the Prez race here has gotten closer. They say only five points separate the candidates, with Obama polling 49% to Romney's 44%. Does that mean we are a "swing state" again and that NM TV managers can pop the champagne corks and await a slew of expensive TV ads? No. Five points is still a relatively healthy lead, but looks much less so compared to the 14 point lead Obama had in the April PPP poll. Still, the trend is with the President here.

The good news in this poll--if it is accurate--is for GOP US Senate candidate Heather Wilson who is locked in a tight race. If Romney can keep Obama's margin of victory here in the 52% or 53% range that would give her a better chance of beating Dem US Senate candidate Martin Heinrich. But how close is Romney? The Hill says:

The (PPP) poll could be an outlier: A poll from the conservative pollster We Ask America released earlier this month had Obama up 11 points, and pollsters for former Rep. Heather Wilson (R-N.M.), without saying exactly what the presidential race looked like, said that her internal polls for her Senate race had her out-performing Romney by more than a few points in the state and trailing Democratic Rep. Martin Heinrich by three points.

PPP also polled Gary Johnson, the former NM Governor and this year's Libertarian Party candidate. He gets an eye-catching13%, but history says that by Election Day that will shrink dramatically Still, Johnson could be poised for a 5 or 6 percent percent showing here. PPP says he is drawing a lot of support from independents. The poll also confirms he draws more Republicans from Romney than Dems from Obama.

PPP says it surveyed "724 New Mexico voters from July 13th to 16th. The margin of error for the survey is +/-3.64%.  This poll was not paid for or authorized by any campaign or political organization. PPP surveys are conducted through automated telephone interviews.

ROMNEY TO NM

How about some exclusive political news for a mid-Summer day? You got it. My sources attending a recent ABQ fund-raiser for southern NM GOP Congressman Steve Pearce say Pearce announced that GOP prez candidate Mitt Romney will appear at a fund-raising lunch August 23 at the Lea County Convention Center in Hobbs. Romney has yet to visit NM since wrapping up the prez nomination.

Lea County is conservative and delivered huge victory margins for GOP prez contenders. In 2008, McCain won 72% of the vote there.

ABOUT THAT NUMBER

Blow back from some Guv Martinez critics on her 56% approval rating from the PPP poll this week. We start with this one:

She's had fawning press coverage, spent hundreds of thousands promoting herself with Susana PAC and polling a whopping two percentage points higher than she was elected with. She is also polling well because the Democrats aren't doing the same thing her that the Republicans are doing to Obama. If these numbers are indicative of anything it's the weakness of Javier Gonzales as Democratic Party chairman...

And another:

Emailgate may yet produce a whopper if the Downs at ABQ racino lease story blows up, but it's equally likely to just fizzle out. What will test Susana's popularity for real will be if Obama wins and it becomes put up or shut up time for Obamacare. If, as some speculate, she's a captive of the national GOP's right wing, she might follow Texas and Florida in refusing to implement the law. My guess is that her support among working poor Hispanics would quickly disappear if she chose to deny health insurance to thousands of them for what would be obviously political reasons. So far, she hasn't indicated she's thinking of going that route. Which makes her smarter than Governors Rick Perry or Rick Scott. Though that isn't saying much.

And one more:

Martinez's numbers reflect the fact that news coverage has not caught up with the news. Martinez and her shadow government are under federal and state investigation on the dirty Downs deal. But you would not know that if you got your news from TV or the state's largest paper. Martinez numbers will only head south as that information reaches more and more New Mexicans. Martinez's numbers are not solid. They reflect a public focused on their own day to day existence. A public too busy trying to keep a roof over its collective head to pay attention to the governor's actions. They are hardly focusing on an upcoming Senate race let alone a gubernatorial election two years down the road.


Susana can take delight in her critics misery, but she also has to be somewhat frustrated. Here she is with a 56% approval rating and unable to get hardly any legislative points on the scoreboard as she wrestles with the Dem-controlled Legislature. Success there will take more than high voter approval, it will take compromise.

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