E-mails released by a left-leaning political committee that have caused quite a bit of controversy for Gov. Susana Martinez were “illegally obtained,” says her spokesman, who adds that the FBI is investigating.
Michael Corwin and his Independent Source PAC have recently released a handful of e-mails showing that Martinez officials have discussed government business using personal e-mail accounts – among them accounts from the susana2010.com domain that Martinez used during her campaign.
It’s those susana2010.com e-mails that Martinez spokesman Scott Darnell said were stolen.
“E-mails sent to susana2010.com addresses have not been received by the intended recipients since the middle of last year,” Darnell said. “The governor had used her e-mail address primarily for personal and political e-mails, and it is disturbing to learn that some stranger has been intercepting personal e-mails sent from friends and family.”
Darnell said Corwin, a private investigator who used to work for then-Gov. Bill Richardson, is “so desperate to smear this governor that he is peddling e-mails that were illegally intercepted.” Darnell said the matter was turned over to the FBI last week, and “we are confident those who committed these crimes will be brought to justice.”
He declined to elaborate further. Though he made clear that he believes a crime was committed, Darnell did not directly accuse Corwin of committing a crime.
E-mails were provided ‘by a source’
E-mail theft can be a serious crime. A man who hacked into former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s Yahoo! account during the 2008 campaign was convicted of a felony and sentenced to a year and a day in federal prison.
In Martinez’s case, the susana2010.com domain has been registered in the name of David Hiss, a former IT staffer in the Third Judicial District Attorney’s Office Martinez used to run, since July 2009. Martinez’s political committee said Hiss was acting as an agent of her campaign and said the committee owns the domain.
Because Darnell wouldn’t elaborate, it’s not clear how someone would intercept e-mails and stop them from reaching their intended recipients.
Corwin wouldn’t reveal who gave him the e-mails.
“I was provided them by a source, and since they clearly pertain to government business, they are public record and we were well within our legal right to release them,” he said. “The only criminal conduct in question pertains to the collusion of bid rigging the Downs deal and to illegally concealing public records.”
The controversies stirred by the e-mails
Those are the controversies stirred by the release of the e-mails. One e-mail shows a state government public information officer responding to a records request from Jay McCleskey, Martinez’s political adviser, using personal e-mail and copying administration officials’ non-government addresses.
In that e-mail, Public Education Department spokesman Larry Behrens seems to indicate that he separated a list of teachers’ public e-mail addresses into union and non-union members for McCleskey.
That controversy, and a second in which e-mails showed that in Martinez was discussing Corrections Department business with staffers using a political action committee e-mail account, resulted in Martinez directing all state employees to use state e-mail when conducting official business.
As for the Downs at Albuquerque deal, e-mails Corwin released earlier this week show that Pat Rogers, a lawyer and Republican Party insider who the Downs hired to represent them in the selection process for the 25-year lease at the state fairgrounds, was attempting to discuss the lease, after the bidding process was complete but before the State Fair Commission approved it, with McCleskey and Ryan Cangiolosi.
Cangiolosi is Martinez’s deputy chief of staff, and during the 2010 election he was her campaign manager. Rogers sent the e-mails to Cangiolosi’s susana2010.com e-mail address, and those are among the e-mails Darnell claims were intercepted and never reached by their intended recipient.
Corwin has also turned over the e-mails he has released to state and federal law enforcement officials and asked for an investigation into possible bid rigging and alleged violations of the Inspection of Public Records Act and other laws.
Corwin told NMPolitics.net he has more e-mails related to the Downs deal he has yet to release and “scores more e-mails” to go through.
This article has been updated to clarify that Rogers sent his e-mails after the bidding process was complete but before the contract was awarded. An earlier version incorrectly stated that he sent them before the bidding process was complete.