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Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Dona Ana Emailgate: It's Also About What Was On Destroyed Emails; Some Media Curious Others Not So Much 

Campaign signs are popping up like weeds after a spring rain. This one touting the candidacy of Democratic Public Regulation Commission candidate Sandy Jones found its way into the arms of the familiar Uncle Sam figure that graces Sparky's restaurant in Hatch in Dona Ana County. Sparky's serves up some of the best green chile cheeseburgers in the state. Jones faces incumbent Republican Ben Hall. . .

The most one sided New Mexico Governor's race since Bill Richardson trounced Republican John Dendahl in 2006 continues. Gov. Martinez is not relenting on Dem Guv hopeful Gary King, coming with a new attack ad over his leasing of a Moriarty building to the state. It joins the now notorious Casanova Con ads that have been the Guv's mainstay against the attorney general.

The problem is these unanswered negative ads are keeping King pinned down under 40% so when he does eventually come with his own attacks, he will have to make up a lot of lost ground just to get back to where he started.

KOB-TV's Stuart Dyson weighs in on the campaign thus far:

A new Martinez TV ad slaps her on the back for job creation. With New Mexico's notorious and agonizingly-slow recovery from the recession, you might think the economy would be red meat for a Gary King ad – but it doesn't work that way when you don't have the money. Is money everything in the modern political campaign? No. Certainly not. But it's the fuel that runs the engine, and without it, you ain't going anywhere!

ANOTHER EMAILGATE?

And then there's King's awkward effort to make an emailgate out of the destruction of emails at the Dona Ana County district attorney's office. He's announced a criminal investigation into the matter, but half the state has little idea of what it's really all about. That's because much of the state's media is not reporting what Mother Jones magazine did months ago--that there are allegations that someone in the office of DA Amy Orlando--Susana Martinez's successor as DA--was running the license plates of political foes of then-Guv candidate Martinez through the federal NCIC system. Former KOB-TV reporter Gadi Schwartz and the Democratic Party submitted open records requests for any emails that might shed light on the allegation.

The New Mexican and Santa Fe Reporter have both mentioned the allegation which would be a reason for the destruction of emails, but the ABQ and Las Cruces papers and KOB-TV have not mentioned the elephant in the room.

King himself could force the issue by actually mentioning it. Why isn't he? Instead the public is left to conclude that the investigation is simply about whether a DA's office can destroy emails--not what may be on the emails that led to their destruction. Sound familiar? Former Martinez aide Jaime Estrada has been found guilty of hacking the Gov's campaign email account, but the shadow government and the shady dealings over the lease for the ABQ Downs racino that were disclosed in those emails fell by the wayside. . .

And is anyone asking if possible misuse of NCIC extended to not just running license plate checks, but actual names of individuals who were not suspected of any wrongdoing?

Here's the money lines from Mother Jones that many of New Mexico's journalists have chosen to ignore:

Martinez's [2010] crew saw enemies everywhere. A former staffer recalls the campaign on multiple occasions sending the license plate numbers of cars believed to be used by opposition trackers to an investigator in Martinez's DA office who had access to law enforcement databases. In one instance, a campaign aide took a photo of a license plate on a car with an anti-Martinez bumper sticker and emailed it to the investigator. "Cool I will see who it belongs to!!" the investigator replied.

A number of readers ask where the US Attorney is on all of this?  If the license plates or the names of innocent civilians were being subjected to federal criminal background checks for political reasons is that not a civil liberties issue? Good question. And why didn't King turn over the investigation to the FBI if as alleged some of the information deleted could deal with illegal use of the federal NCIC?

And from the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) website:

All records in NCIC are protected from unauthorized access through appropriate administrative, physical, and technical safeguards. These safeguards include restricting access to those with a need to know to perform their official duties, and using locks, alarm devices, passwords, and/or encrypting data communications.

USE CONSTRAINTS: Users of the NCIC system will be restricted to only those privileges necessary to perform an authorized task(s).


That a district attorney was allegedly destroying emails is news and so is what is on those emails and what was the motive for their destruction. At least, that's how we were taught about public info back in the pre-email days during our  time at the UNM Daily Lobo. . .

COMING HOME

Dem political consultant James Hallinan left the state to work on the east coast for a while. He writes in reaction to our blog reporting on how desolate the ABQ Sunport was on a recent Saturday night:

I left my home state for several years for work due to the dismal economy and lack of opportunity in New Mexico since the Republicans took control, but I am home now on a full scholarship at Anderson for an MBA program. Since returning, I only hear terrible and more terrible stories from friends and family about how they lost their job, can’t find a job despite excellent schooling or experience, or how only the out-of-state politically chosen get the jobs. What has happened to our state?? We are living in poverty and a lack of opportunity, and it doesn’t take a CNBC analyst to tell you that! You just need to talk to your grandma, your primo, or your buddy from high school to tell you that our home is no longer the Land of Enchantment—it’s the Land of Disenfranchisement. We need an SOS… Save Our State… from the horrid Republican policies, inaction and cowardice that is keeping New Mexico down. We’re better than this.

THE BOTTOM LINES

Early voting? Don't ask us. We've fouled up the dates two days in a row. Check your county clerk's website. It's all there.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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