Monday, September 29, 2014

On Emails and Email Destruction

You'll have read that Amy Orlando, Governor Martinez's hand-picked successor, apparently destroyed emails, erased hard-drives, shredded documents, and tried to undermine successor D.A. Mark D'Antonio's ability to do his job.

Emails were destroyed despite Orlando's (emailed) acknowledgment that “Anything put on computers is property of the State.”

My question is, what's most appalling? Massive destruction of documents and erasure of backup tapes? The appearance that the office and its resources were used improperly to support political campaigns? (Some emails they couldn't destroy concern 2010 Martinez campaign logistics or issues.) Or one of the few emails they couldn't erase? (These are mostly sent emails, which are harder to destroy.)

Certainly the massive destruction matters. So does apparently lying about it. A reporter's IPRA request for emails was met by a claim that they weren't available because the email servers were “routinely cleaned”; but an IT person from the Martinez-Orlando era (supported by other IT folks) admits they were not “routinely cleaned.”

One email attempts to deny the DA's office money it could use prosecuting cases. Orlando asks how much of certain grant money will be left for the office after she leaves. She learns her office has spent about $ 400,000 for 120 cases, and that 70 more cases should yield $200,000 to $300,000. Orlando begs an underling not to let D'Antonio know how to obtain and use the grant money: “Don't leave ANY note about how to do it!! Please.” That suggests her priority isn't us, but her political interest and her childish resentment of D'Antonio. By trying to deny the DA's office grant money, does she mean that if she can't be the D.A., she's on the criminals' side??)

Another email says Martinez wants her inauguration event to be “no Mexican affair!!”

Need more? A financial specialist has to “forget” Martinez's signature on an affidavit related to a hotel bill; Orlando asks underlings to change who has access to her office calendar and lie about it; and (like something out of the East German film “The Lives of Others”) Martinez and Orlando apparently copied and read employees' emails.

Particularly interesting is the Saturday, November 6, 2010 email from Martinez headed “from: Amy Orlando” that starts: “This is Susana. I am sending this email from Amy's BB. I want to make something very clear to all of you. When Amy or Susan [Reidel] gives any of you instructions – they are approved by me. . . [Anyone who's dissatisfied should] call me directly.” That tends to confirm the widespread view that Martinez remained in control of the DA's Office after leaving for Santa Fe. She goes on to ream out employees for “frankly mean emails,” “mean gossip,” and spending too much time emailing and visiting each other's offices. “I hope I have made myself clear,” she closes.

(She's been elected Governor days earlier, yet is still micro-managing the DA's Office here.)

Interestingly, the same email reams people out for failing to decline the Sunland Park case, adding that she has long “known that there was little to no evidence to charge this case. . . There is no reason for this case to linger this long in the office.” What's interesting is that her protege, or some say puppet, soon ramped up an investigation of that case and announced a bunch of very public indictments. Why?

D'Antonio's office investigated the email issue after trying to respond to an IPRA Request for emails – and discovering that the emails had disappeared. D'Antonio did not open a criminal investigation, which could have been a conflict of interest, and he says any such proceedings would be up to the State Attorney General.
[Note: this column was published yesterday, Sunday, 28 September in the Las Cruces Sun-News.  Sorry not to post it here Sunday morning, as usual -- and not sure I can post copies of some of the emails, as I'd hoped to do.  May be able to add 'em soon.]

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