Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Readers React To Sensational Recording Of Martinez Staff Chief Gardner; Calls For Resignation Heard, Plus: Where's The Media? Only Parts Of Tape Make It To Mainstream, And: Some Wednesday Bottom Lines 

Keith Gardner
The email poured in reaction to the sometimes shocking rants of Governor Martinez Chief of Staff Keith Gardner contained on a leaked audio tape and disclosed here for the first time on Tuesday.

Gardner's repeated use of salty language (to put it mildly), his attitude and the state of the governorship all came in for reader scrutiny in the aftermath of the tape shocker. Here's a sample from ABQ:

These tapes do more than just reveal Gardner's penchant for foul language and his dislike of various people. It really shows how pedestrian this gubernatorial administration is in its approach to governing. I think there is an expectation, at an economically challenging time for the state, that the governor's chief of staff would be working intensely--every minute of the day--at the highest levels to address the massive problems in new Mexico.

Instead he is having an hour and a half discussion with some buddy from Roswell that reads like a scene from Fast Times at Ridgemont High. All it's missing is a few references to "bro's" and "dude's"

Governor Martinez ought to be hugely embarrassed by this--but she won't be. This is what you get when you hire a small town district attorney to be governor. She was a mediocre administrator who made poor hires as DA and we're seeing an exacerbation of this same traits coming out in the governorship. She runs the place like it's Mayberry and Keith is just the happy go lucky goofy deputy sheriff. And all this hullabaloo is just the way town folks talk.....

This is not a serious governorship. They aren't taking on the big issues and addressing them like professionals and adults. They're mired in petty B.S. and it's time to get serious.

Reader and Democrat Stephanie DuBois comes with this:

Joe, I just want to know if Keith the good Mormon eats with that mouth. His language is enough to make the Mormon Bishop blush. And Joe, there are those that think Republicans are nice. I wonder if the Governor's popularity will take a fall over this. No respect to Senator Jennings who is a very powerful legislator with many friends on both sides of the aisle. That is why he has stayed there for 33 years. We have a Governor and staff that in two years has certainly undermined our New Mexico government. The Governor should fire Keith but she won't. Maybe the Mormon church should sanction him for language unbecoming a member of the Church of Latter Day Saints.

And another:

Tuesday's blog is dead on. It exposes Keith Gardner for what he is: an arrogant pompous ass. I wonder if Susana is happy that she ran to his defense after hearing this recording. The statement that stands out and shows what a two faced person Keith is, is the statement he made about Senator Tim Jennings. If you will remember, when Keith created the state job for his wife it was Senator Jennings who came to Keith's defense. The folks in Roswell should be very happy with Keith after hearing how Keith hates Roswell and the people there.I know the Mormon Elders must be proud of him. I wonder if his daddy the judge is going to get him out of this mess. 


We posted the entire hour and thirteen minutes of the Gardner tape. We did not summarize the part this reader is concerned with, but give him the floor to rebut statements made in the recording:

Mr. Monahan: My name is S. Doug Jones Witt. I am an attorney in Roswell. I successfully defended David Lawrence with regard to the allegations made by Kayla Powell against Coach Lawrence. I was shocked to hear the full and uncensored conversation between Brian Powell and Keith Gardner on your blog. 

Let me state for the record: I have never had a "substance abuse problem" as referenced by Mr. Gardner. I have never been arrested or investigated for any alcohol or drug-related offense. On the contrary, I began my legal career as a prosecutor in the Ninth Judicial District Attorney's Office and prosecuted drug and alcohol cases for four (4) years...I left the DA's office in 1998 and joined the law firm of Sanders, Bruin, Coll & Worley, where, after 5 years, I achieved partner status.  

Mr. Gardner alludes to an ex-employee of his who shared this false information about me. Her name is (was at the time) Stacey Hendrix (not sure on spelling).  Mrs. Hendrix was accused of stealing money from a local business here in Roswell and ultimately received other charges which led to the violation of her conditions of release and her incarceration.  These facts are easily confirmed through a basic search in New Mexico Courts.com.  Again, I have absolutely no documented history of substance abuse. I consider Mr. Gardner's comments to Mr. Powell defamation of the highest order and have contacted legal counsel to discuss my rights. 

Helen Laura Lopez writes from Taos

You are on fire again!

Another reader, commenting on a reference Gardner made, said it is a boarhog, not warthog:

"Worthless as teats on a boarhog." The Arkansas Times used it against their Governor.

A reader writes:

Wow! is all I can say about Tuesday's post..

Cathy Chavez emails:

Joe-- In all the years I have followed your blog, you hit one out of the park with Tuesday's Keith Gardner column. Keep up the great work.

Thanks for that, Cathy. We are confident we made the right call in publishing and if we have to stand alone, so be it. Read on...


A number of readers and politicians wanted to know whey the sensational revelations in the Gardner tape have not made their way into the mainstream media, even though the tape has been out there for a week. (They started to cover after our Tuesday blog. See below).

News organizations last week did quote the segment of the tape in which Gardner says he does not use a state email account because it could be dragged into court and he doesn't want to go to jail. They've also referenced the portion where Gardner is talking about replacing the state fair manager, but the rest of the tape had been ignored--despite what it says about the relationship between the leaders of two branches of the state's government and what impact that will have on public policy and the taxpayers. That's why we deemed it newsworthy. One of our Senior Alligators came with this:
The hands-off/kid glove treatment Gov. Martinez has received throughout E-mailgate shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. It's how the news media works these days.

It starts at the top with the corporate and upper management types who are way too cozy with the politicos they're supposed to keep an eye on and goes right down to the beat reporters who re-hash and regurgitate press releases from political PIOs they (more often than not) used to work with.

There's also the fear factor.  There are no consequences from the public if a reporter or news organization goes easy on the Governor and her cronies.  But on the other hand, upset the Governor or political Svengali Jay McCleskey and your on the "Enemies List."  Bottom line: the news media needs to stop sucking up to the Powers That Be and needs to start covering them - the way Edward R. Murrow would.

There's something to be said about the intimidation factor. The political team of the governor has been known to put the pressure on upper management and that has trickled down to reporters' coverage. But our job--and theirs--is to put the heat on them---"them" being whoever happens to be in power

As we said, coverage is starting to trickle out. The alternative weekly, the Santa Fe Reporter, examines the Gardner tape in an article titled "Giant in the Dark."

KOAT-TV did a report on the Gardner tape (to its credit) Tuesday night. They asked the Governor about it and she said the conversation was a private one between two men who have since patched things up? But what about Gardner's profanity laced diatribe against Senator Jennings? Should he apologize? Will she discipline him?

And the Santa Fe New Mexican comes with coverage in its Wednesday editions. Senator Jennings makes his first comments:

Jennings expressed surprise about Gardner’s statements. “His wife and family, I thought we all were friends,” Jennings said. He said his son was friends with Gardner’s son. He said he didn’t understand what Gardner was referring to regarding the first day of the session and didn’t recall Sanchez telling him to “tone it down.” Jennings said he didn’t like the sentiments or the language Gardner used, but said he wouldn’t hold it against him. “Hate and destruction have no place in government,” he said.

Scott Darnell, a spokesman for the governor, said in an email Tuesday that Gardner and Jennings “have been able to work together, even though there have been heated disagreements in private over various policies. Keith is not proud of his language, but this particular private conversation took place a year ago and the two have talked and worked together since then on multiple occasions. Just like when the Governor has been disparaged or called names by legislators … we are moving on and won’t allow that to distract us from doing the work the people of New Mexico expect and deserve.”


Has Jay met his match? Out-of-state Dem union money is coming in to match the out-of-state oil money that has largely financed Governor Martinez's PAC and another political PAC--both run by Martinez's controversial political guru Jay McCleskey. The AP says:

Labor unions and a retiring Democratic legislative leader have provided nearly $400,000 to a newly formed political group planning to make independent campaign expenditures in New Mexico, including races that will determine whether Democrats retain control of the Legislature...The committee raised $393,816 in July and August, and has most of that left after spending only $62 for a bank fee and the costs to register as a political committee in New Mexico. The super PAC allied with Martinez — Reform New Mexico Now--had cash-on-hand of $305,000 as of last week after raising $281,000 in the past two months.

R's were quick to point out that Amanda Cooper, a longtime political aide to former Governor Big Bill, is involved in the new Patriot Majority fund that will counter McCleskey. Our insiders report that David Contarino, a longtime political strategist and former Chief of Staff to Richardson will also be working with the PAC.

The R's may try to connect the two to the scandals of the past, but most Dems are happy to have the pair on the ground here. McCleskey has been running riot without any real opposition. With the experienced Cooper and Contarino, suddenly there will be some checks and balances.


 Governor Martinez, as expected, appoints 38 year old GOP attorney Simon Kubiak to the Bernalillo County Commission. He will face Debbie O'Malley in November in a contest for the North Valley and Westside seat. That gives the Republicans a three person majority on the commission--their first in nearly forty years. We said it would last at least until the end of the year, but a spokesman for Michelle Lujan Grisham, the ABQ Dem congressional candidate whose resignation created the vacancy filled by Susana, says that is not the case:

Joe, You reported --and so did the Journal and TV--that the governor's appointment to the county commission would serve till the end of the year. We had researched that when Michelle was considering resigning, and it appears the governor's appointment would only serve through election day. The winner of the election would seemingly take over the day after the election, unless it's the same person. So it would seem the Republican majority has less than two months, not the four months everyone assumes. I don't know what the governor's appointment letter says. Here is the language in the statute:

If a vacancy occurs in the office of district attorney or county commissioner , the governor shall fill such vacancy by appointment, and such appointee shall hold such office until the next general election. His successor shall be chosen at such election and shall hold his office until the expiration of the original term. (As amended November 8, 1988.)  

Okay, so if O'Malley beats Kubiak Nov. 6 the Republican majority ends--we assume--when the election results are certified. That would give them several more weeks in the majority beyond November 6.


Clara Apodaca announces her retirement as president and CEO of the Foundation at the National Hispanic Cultural Center...The proposal to have ABQ voters decide on an increase in its minimum wage at the November 6 election met its Waterloo in court Tuesday. A judge ruled the petition asking for the public vote is flawed.

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