Thursday, June 27, 2013

Emailgate Battle Goes On; Governor Again Attacks Dem Chair Bregman Over Hijacked Emails As Press Asks For Franco Records For Louisiana Trip; Fight For Control Of State Political Narrative  

Sam Bregman
Silencing the loquacious Sam Bregman could be likened to trying to quiet a Harley-Davidson, but direct attacks on the new state Democratic Party chairman by Governor Martinez appear to be doing the trick. In her latest fund-raising email the Governor personally hammers Bregman for his role in emailgate and chides him for retreating under a veil of silence:

...Federal indictments were handed down related to the illegal interception of my personal and political emails. Those emails...ended up being published on the Internet...The same grand jury that indicted a fired former staffer who I refused to hire in the administration, also indicted a Democratic political operative whose computer was seized by the FBI in the course of the email-theft investigation. But the Democrat was indicted for something much more serious than email theft--he was indicted for the child pornography the FBI found when they raided his house. This Democrat operative...was the PAC Manager at the time of the email theft for the now Democratic Party Chairman Sam Bregman. Not surprisingly, the Democratic Party Chairman is now refusing to answer any questions about what he knew about the scheme to steal and distribute personal and political emails.

This is the second time Martinez has personally taken on Bregman, The first time was in a Facebook posting earlier this month. At the time Bregman came with this retort:

"Governor Martinez, need I remind you that as a lawyer you are an officer of the court and you have professional responsibilities...You should take a refresher course to better understand that you should not attempt to use your position as Governor to influence, inject politics into or bully the US Attorney’s office in their investigation, all while attempting to deflect the investigation of your shadow governor, Jay McCleskey and the Dirty Downs Scandal. Or perhaps your motive is to change the conversation from the miserable, sorry job that you have done as Governor when it comes to creating jobs in this state and educating our children..."Regardless, I will not make further comments regarding the criminal investigation and you should reconsider your current behavior as the Governor...”

It's that last line from Bregman--"I will not make further comments" that has Dems concerned if Bregman is permanently on the defensive against Martinez--just as the 14' re-election cycle begins.

The battle here is for the political narrative--is it about Martinez's email account being hijacked by her former campaign manager and making her a "victim" of a political dirty trick and perhaps a criminal act? Or is this really more about what was on some of the hijacked emails concerning a 25 year racino lease for the ABQ Downs and allegations of bid-rigging?

Bregman shifted the argument over to the Downs deal in that June 6 statement, but he has been silent on the major emailgate news of the week--a renewed interest by the press in obtaining travel records for a 2011 Louisiana hunting trip taken by First Gentleman Chuck Franco and two state policemen serving as his security detail.

Bregman promised a much more boisterous and effective attack on Martinez than that given by former Chairman Javier Gonzales. But on what could be the preeminent issue for giving the Governor a run for her money--the Downs deal--the question is whether Bregman has been silenced. If he has, can he still be effective without the sharpest arrow in his quiver?

As for Martinez, her decision to go toe-to-toe with her political rivals despite sporting an approval rating north of 60% is seen by political pros as her way of rallying the GOP base. They say '14 will be a low turnout election and throwing red meat out there is one way to get the R's into the voting booths and raise campaign cash. The downside is that the gubernatorial nastiness might not play well with Dems and independents so keeping it "all in the Republican family" is probably the play for now.


The Martinez fund-raising letter came on the same day when the ABQ Journal editorialized on the stonewalling the press and public is getting from the administration on the release of expense records for Franco's now controversial Louisiana alligator hunting trip. The trip took place at the same time the administration was negotiating the Downs racino lease. Two owners of the Downs live in Louisiana.

The administration says the Downs owners did not provide lodging or food to Franco and his police protectors nor did anyone else involved with state government or politics. But the administration steadfastly refuses to say who "privately hosted" the state policemen and Franco, arguing doing so would compromise "security."

The Journal appeared to be dragging its feet on the story after the New Mexican was first refused the Franco records, but in their editorial they joined the journalistic hunting party:

Also not forthcoming are details of expenses paid for first gentleman Chuck Franco’s 2011 alligator-hunting trip in Louisiana and copies of Martinez’ past or present calendars, so the public can know when she’s been in Santa Fe or elsewhere... The administration should reassess its position and avoid a legal battle that will likely end with the records being declared public, the taxpayers getting stuck with hefty legal bills and the public more cynical than ever.

It is key that the paper mentioned the records for the Franco trip. The NM Foundation for Open Government (FOG) has filed a request for the Governor's state police expense records under the Inspection of Public Records Act (IPRA), but only for the three months leading up to the 2012 presidential election. The hunting trip took place in September 2011.

We had some computer glitches Wednesday and some of you may have already seen our piece on the FOG action. For those who didn't, the question we raised was why FOG is not taking legal action to get the Franco trip records and that someone ought to. Why not the ABQ Journal?

We're asking for the records of where he and his taxpayer paid escorts were lodged and fed on each night of the Louisiana vacation--even if it was complimentary and there is no "expense" record.

Well, one way or another the Franco trip records are bound to surface. Only then will we see if there is some kind of smoking gun there or much ado about nothing. Meanwhile, the Governor is starting to spend the political capital she has accumulated with her most stalwart media allies. Ultimately, they have to answer to the public--not her.


Former Bernalillo County Treasurer Pat Padilla now has company in the Dem race for State Treasurer. Former ABQ NE Heights state Senator Tim Eichenberg makes his run official:

We all owe a debt to our current State Treasurer, James B. Lewis, who is termed out, for the work he has done to restore ethics and honesty to the Treasurer’s office. We share the same core values of respect for the public trust as well as ethical behavior by elected officials, and I will continue his fine work. My experience and reputation for fiscal responsibility make me the right choice for the office so crucial to our state’s financial integrity.

Eichenberg was elected Bernalillo County Treasurer in 1974, at the age of 22. He was Property Tax Director for New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department; and he currently serves as a board member on the Albuquerque Metropolitan Arroyo Flood Control Authority (AMAFCA). Eichenberg was elected to the Senate in 2008 but did not seek re-election in 2012.

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