Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Gardner Tapes: Unplugged & Uncensored; Martinez Chief Of Staff Says Senate Leader Jennings Is A "Prick," And "Asshole" And Much Worse, Plus: Keith Says Susana Thinks Legislators "Stupid;" Says State Fair Manager is A "Fu..er"; Get Your Gas Mask On: It's A Must Read Tuesday Blog 

Martinez & Gardner
Now that Governor Martinez Chief of Staff Keith Gardner has called Senate President Pro Tem Tim Jennings "a cocksucking son of a bitch," how does she do business with the majority Dems in the Senate?

Yeah, we thought that might grab your attention, but we're just getting started. Grab your Starbucks and read on as we explore the unplugged world of Keith Gardner, who after this bout of publicity may switch to sign language when he meets you.

And remember that moniker the tall and lanky Gardner was given when he was in the Legislature as a state rep from Roswell? It was "Gentle Giant." Well, the giant reveals that he has a not so gentle temper and he has just stepped his big foot in a towering pile of political dung.

Here we go, kids.....

You've probably heard or read about bits and pieces of the over one hour long audio recording from October 2011 that was taped by Brian Powell, a city of Roswell employee involved in a legal matter with Gardner, 45, and his family. (It is being posted in its entirety here and here for the first time).

The tape was brought to light by attorney Sam Bregman. We've had our Alligators examine the recording so we could put the most sensational and newsworthy quotes in one place. And we don't use the word sensational lightly.

More background on how this tape came about later, but first put on your gas mask and protective gloves as we dive deep into Keith's world.


Sen. Jennings
Here's the complete uncensored quote from Gardner on Roswell area Senator Jennings, a key power player in the Senate who was first elected in 1979:

 Fuck...special session kicked my ass. I hate those fuckers. I hate fucking Tim Jennings so bad right now...Oh God I hate him! He’s a cocksucking son of a bitch. So it’s all good. We’re fine. We’re fine..things are good.

We suppose Gardner was thinking things were good after that tirade because the special session he referred to was finally over. But while things may be "fine," political retribution is not far from the chief of staff's mind. Here's more of Gardner's rant that is going to make La Politica history: 

BRIAN--How is she liking the job as Governor?

GARDNER--She loves it. She has her days when she is like, “these people are so stupid.” She hates Tim Jennings right now, it’s so funny.. And he is just being as asshole....Fucking prick. I mean a total prick. He was such a prick on that first day of the session that (Senate Majority Leader) Michael Sanchez told him to tone it down. That tells you how big of a prick he was. When Michael is telling him to tone it down, that he is being disrespectful. And Michael hates the Governor. Yeah. So, Tim has been just a son of a bitch. He and I have been fighting. God, we’ve been fighting.

B- Is he going to run again.

GARDNER: Yeah I think so. What else does he have to do? We are going to find someone to run against him. We raised half a million dollars just to run one set of races. We are gonna try to raise another five hundred to a million. 

Jennings is a popular Democrat in a conservative SE NM district. He was unopposed in the June 2012 primary. In November he has a young Republican opponent in Cliff Pirtle who would be the ostensible beneficiary of the monetary largess Keith refers to. It remains to be seen how much the Gov's political action committee pumps into Pirtle's effort, especially in light of these quotes from Gardner.

As for Jennings, we await any response he cares to give, besides the big belly laugh we hear up here in ABQ echoing from the SE NM ranch where he lives.


The entertainment continues as Keith recalls an incident in Roswell when he was pulled over for speeding:

Brian--Sheriff’s office. Sheriff’s office is in charge of that. Britt Snyder. You know Brett. Son of a bitch. You know Britt is in Reserve. I’ve known Brett my whole life.

GARDNER- Worthless as tits on a warthog. I like Britt, we get along fine, but that son of a bitch. He was a new cop and he pulled me over 20 some years ago. In Reserve. I passed some car going five miles an hour in a no passing zone. My dad was a judge. I’m like, “Britt, write me the fucking ticket or leave me alone. I was leaving on my mission to Spain for two years the next day. Either write me the ticket or leave me alone. You know if you write the ticket I’ll get it dismissed because my dad is the judge so, write the fucking ticket I don’t care.

The mission to Spain that Gardner mentions was part of his service as a Mormon, although his mixing in the "F word" in his recounting of his ticket story might not settle so well with the elders of that conservative religion.


Gardner is sometimes brash, dripping with machismo, sometimes defensive and sometimes arrogant in the recording. Here's arrogant Keith:

GARDNER--Oh shit, I hired a PIO away from a public relations firm and next thing you know I’m getting hit.

B- You are?

GARDNER-Yeah. Because she is my friend.

B-Who is?

GARDNER--Her name is Aimee Barabe. And they are like, “Oh she gets a sweet job because she is friends with Keith Gardner. But it is a one day hit. I don’t give a shit. Why can’t I put people in there that I trust? That is what my job is.

Well, hiring a PIO may be a one day hit, but this tape of Keith is going to follow him to the grave. (Barabe is the spokeswoman for the Department of Health).


And here are the money lines from the tape that have been widely reported. Gardner discusses why he never uses state email to communicate:

That is all discoverable. That is why I never e-mail on my state e-mail, anything that can come back to bite my ass, it is all done offline. Shit I never use my state e-mail, because it is all done on different stuff. I don’t want to go to court or jail.

Well, Keith, if they could put people in jail for swearing too much, you'd get the maximum sentence.

And then there's this quote that KOB-TV has reported. It's Gardner telling Powell how he might be able to get him the state fair manager job, a position currently held by Dan Mourning, a former restaurant owner and a close friend of Darren White, the former GOP Bernalillo County Sheriff who is now general manager of the Downs at ABQ which is located on the fairgrounds.

Let me get with (Deputy Chief of Staff) Ryan (Cangiolosi) and get serious, tell him I want something. Find me something. Maybe an opening for state fair manager, I’m about to fire that fucker. I’m so pissed. God they screwed up, those guys could screw up a wet dream. So many headaches. 

Anyone who has been in politics is going to empathize with Gardner for unknowingly being taped, but won't sympathize, Chiefs of staff have license to be tough-talking but they are supposed to be smart enough to not do it on tape and embarrass their boss--the Governor--even in a state like ours that allows secret taping if only one party agrees to it.


For context on all of this, here's how the ABQ Journal reported the background on this story:

...Gardner was talking in Roswell to Brian Powell, a city of Roswell employee (Sam) Bregman represents in a civil lawsuit unrelated to ongoing email controversies involving the administration. Gardner was in Roswell to speak at a meeting of a regional economic development group. During their one-hour and 13-minute conversation, Gardner and Powell--who Bregman said made the recording without Gardner’s knowledge--begin talking about a sexual assault case involving members of their respective families. That led to discussing email messages sent by relatives of the alleged perpetrator regarding the case.

Gardner, on the tape, said that material was “discoverable” and could be seized because it was on school system computers. He urged Powell to pursue that and then said the state, in other cases, had seized computers from people’s desks for forensic examinations. Gardner said: “That’s all discoverable; that’s why I never email on my state email, anything that can come back and bite my ass. It’s all done offline. … It’s all done on different stuff. Because I don’t want to go to court and jail." 

An apparent shadow government that communicates off the record, a complete and total breakdown in legislative relationships, the down and dirty Downs at ABQ racino deal and now the Gardner Tapes. What's a Governor to do?


The AP reports from Santa Fe on the cash coming in to influence the state legislative races. It's the trial lawyers for the Dems and Susana and Jay for the Rs.


We had the spread right in the latest poll in the US Senate race in our first draft of the Monday blog. Seven points separate Dem Martin Heinrich and Republican Heather Wilson. But the numbers posted said Heinrich 49 to Wilson's 41. For the record, the Journal poll has Heinrich at 49 and Wilson at 42...

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