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Thursday, June 06, 2013

Susana Gets Personal: Takes To Facebook To Lash Out On Email Hacking, Ex-Campaign Manager And Others, Plus: Attorney For Ex-Martinez Staffer Says Downs Racino Deal Is Under Separate Federal Probe; And: Dem Chairman Bregman Takes Hits On Emailgate; Waiting For A Return Volley 

You might think Governor Martinez would sit back, pop some popcorn and enjoy the show. But like a dog that must hunt, a prosecutor--one supposes--must prosecute. And so former district attorney Susana took the unusual step Wednesday of personally taking to Facebook to lash out at her indicted ex-campaign manager Jamie Estrada, Democratic Party Chairman Sam Bregman and Attorney General Gary King. Of Estrada, who faces federal charges of hijacking her campaign email account, Martinez posted:

Now, the leftwing criminal defense lawyer (Zachary Ives) representing the indicted is promising a smear campaign. I stood up to criminals for 25 years as a prosecutor, I wasn’t intimidated then and I won't be intimidated now.

That's classic JaySpeak, leveling a smear--"leftwing"--while saying his gal is being smeared (a reporter from a conservative group called it "a rant"). But why the vitriol direct from the Guv's lips? Why isn't she staying above the fray where popular governors are supposed to sit? That was the reaction of a variety of pundits when they got word of the Facebook missive.

The Governor, who sports a 60 percent plus approval rating, says she penned the post on the airplane as she was returning from a DC fund-raiser where a GOP Alligator says she raised $250,0000 and the Washington media was talking about her national political position. What more could you ask for? She was cloaked in pristine white and dove head first into the mud pit. Is there really that much to gain? Or is there that much at risk to the administration that they have to put her out front on a story that has garnered relatively little attention?

One Dem consultant explained the rare Favebook attack post by saying Martinez is using her high approval numbers to attempt to discredit Estrada now before he starts singing a song of corruption even more loudly. But you are not going to do that with one Facebook posting. You are going to have to do it time and again--using up that political capital. That's one reason why surrogates--like party flacks--are usually called upon to start the drumbeat, sparing the Governor from the direct engagement.

Others have opined that they sense real fear in the administration since Andrea Goff, her former campaign finance director, publicly said she had been interviewed by the FBI about the controversial ABQ Downs racino lease approved by the administration. They say that the Martinez camp is doing all it can to keep the focus on her hacked email account and not the Downs deal. And they are willing to put the Governor out in front of the story.

No business of ours. But we've advised a few Governors, mayors and congressmen over the decades. We've always told them to not to get too close to a moving train. And this one has been moving like a bullet.

Is Martinez and/or McCleskey that worried about what else Estrada and others may say that she feels the need to inoculate herself? She can inoculate, but is it necessary to personally administer the shot?

ATTORNEY CONFIRMS DOWNS PROBE

Att. Wertheim
Okay, we're back on the KRQE-TV vs. Santa Fe Reporter beat. The station insists its anonymous sources that say there is no separate federal investigation of the Downs at ABQ racino lease are right. The SFR has said its sources say there is a racino probe.

One of the SFR sources was Andrea Goff, the former Martinez finance campaign director who shed her anonymity to say she was interviewed about the Downs deal--and that it had nothing to do with email hacking as KRQE and the Governor's political team insists.

That hasn't been good enough for the station to retract its report that called the SFR story "inaccurate." Now an attorney for another former Martinez campaign worker tells the ABQ Journal that his client has been interviewed as part of a separate investigation of the Downs deal--not the email case:

...Former Martinez campaign worker, Anissa Ford of Rio Rancho, is now a witness in the email case and has been interviewed by agents on other matters, including the Downs at Albuquerque racino lease, according to her attorney. The lawyer, Jerry Todd Wertheim, said Ford, one of Martinez’s personal aides during the campaign, has been a witness from the time the agents served the search warrant on her Rio Rancho home.

“She has never been anything but a witness,” Wertheim said...“That has been very clear since the start.” Wertheim said his client has been questioned on several matters, including the emails stolen from the Susana2010.com campaign website.

“She has been questioned separately on the Downs at Albuquerque deal by a different set of agents. It was clear there was no linkage between the email investigation and the Downs investigation,” he said.

So does longtime NM lawyer Jerry Todd Wertheimhave it wrong, too? He flatly states there are two investigations--one on the Downs--one on the email probe. Goff, her attorney and Ford and her attorney are not anonymous sources.  The Governor's office dismisses Wertheim's report as coming from a "prominent Democratic lawyer" and that Ford is a "disgruntled" former employee.

So are we to take it that the Governor believes because Wertheim is a Democrat he is lying? As an "officer of the court" would he shade the truth? As the attorney for Ford would he not have proof of his statements that "two sets" of FBI agents interviewed her?

This is as authoritative a statement as we have seen confirming a separate racino probe--no matter how embryonic or advanced it may be. No wonder the administration is so nervous.

SAM GOES CLAM

Has Democratic Party Chairman Sam Bregman been seriously compromised on the email hijacking story?

The federal authorities say Bregman, a criminal defense attorney, received a hijacked email from Martinez's campaign account and used it in defending a state employee who had been fired by the administration.

And then there's the political consultant Bregman was associated with who is also embroiled in emailgate and who was busted on child porn charges during the course of the FBI investigation. Does it get much worse than that?

Maybe. Maybe not. Bregman has stayed silent for several days. We would not expect that to last.

Bregman did break his silence Thursday morning, coming with a statement that he had indeed told the court about the email in question as well as lawyers for the Governor involved in the firing case;

The Governor has chosen to do this (question the email) after knowing full well that the day after I received the email in question I personally hand delivered the email to a judge and to the Governor’s lawyers in a judicial proceeding. For the Governor to suggest or imply that I have done anything improper or violated any law is reprehensible...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 the while attempting to deflect the investigation of your shadow governor, Jay McCleskey and the Dirty Downs Scandal.

Bregman would not say if he knew the email was obtained illegally.

Sam's repeated "no comment" in news stories regarding emailgate had been watching a pit bull lose its teeth. He was at Martinez's mercy when the latest emailgate news broke and she piled on quickly, demanding to know exactly what Sam knew and when he knew it. Hey, aren't those the questions Democrats should be turning on Martinez over alleged bid-rigging for the ABQ Downs racino?

THE PATH AHEAD

Martinez and company are hoping that in the days ahead they have a weakened Sam Bregman, a jailed and/or discredited Jamie Estrada and a Governor seen as the victim of unscrupulous staffers. But the Dems still think they hold a hole card that could get played--the bid rigging allegations over the ABQ Downs racino lease. Reader Mike traces out one way he thinks that cared could get played:

Over the next several months (maybe weeks) I think we'll see a confluence of the two controversies. As I understand the indictment, Estrada continued to control the Susana2010 domain until July 2012. The Downs lease agreement was finalized in December 2011. This indicates to me that Estrada had access to any emails traversing the Susana2010 domain throughout the entire bid process and well past the awarding of the lease agreement. The question then is---Did Estrada, while monitoring emails passing through the Susana2010 domain over this critical period, capture a "smoking gun" -- an email or emails that will implicate administration officials or advisers in a bid-rigging scheme to award the lease agreement to Susana's big political contributor. While he apparently leaked some of the emails (to the union guy, for example), Estrada strikes me as a bright, if not crafty person, who would save the best of the emails for his use when the chips are down (no pun intended)... like a federal indictment.

In any event, don't be surprised if Estrada ends up pleading to a lesser charge and cooperating in a federal investigation into the bid-rigging of the Albuquerque Downs lease agreement. If so, Governor Law& Order is going to have some explaining to do....

Be surprised, Mike? After what has been going around here a ghost in our face would have a hard time surprising us.

ON THE SCENE

The ABQ Film and Media Experience (AFME)  is underway and runs through June 9. Blog reader Geri Lynn Weinstein was co-producer for the film Justice Denied" that will premier at the ABQ Kimo Saturday night. The film is about military servicemen--including Geri Lynn's husband--coming forward to report on how they were sexually assaulted while serving. It's a problem that received congressional attention this week and a subject that made for a compelling documentary....Actor Robert Redford will also be in town for AFME, appearing Friday night at the Hiland Theatre.

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