POLITICS

New Mexico DA accused of destroying emails about Gov. Susana Martinez's campaign

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez speaks on Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014, during the 2014 Domenici Public Policy Conference at the Las Cruces Convention Center in Las Cruces, N.M. (AP PHOTO/Las Cruces Sun-News, Robin Zielinski)

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez speaks on Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014, during the 2014 Domenici Public Policy Conference at the Las Cruces Convention Center in Las Cruces, N.M. (AP PHOTO/Las Cruces Sun-News, Robin Zielinski)  ((AP PHOTO/Las Cruces Sun-News, Robin Zielinski))

Even though she appears to be coasting to victory, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez’s race for reelection is getting nasty.

A report released earlier this week by New Mexico’s Doña Ana County district attorney’s office stopped short of bringing official charges against anyone but stated that a former district attorney and staff members deleted vital emails about Martinez's campaign from July 2009 to December 2010 before leaving office in 2012.

The report came in response to an inquiry by the New Mexico Democratic Party into allegations that members of Martinez’ staff would send “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 its report, the Doña Ana County DA’s office found that it could not fulfill the request because, allegedly, “a large number of office e-mails from former employees had been deleted and/or removed” during the administration of former District Attorney Amy Orlando.

Orlando, who was defeated by current district attorney Mark D’Antonio, said that the investigation was "a taxpayer-funded political witch hunt,” but never addressed the allegations directly in a prepared statement.

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"The district attorney’s election was almost two years ago and the citizens of Doña Ana County should expect that the district attorney and his investigators ought to be spending their time on investigating and prosecuting crimes, rather than on taxpayer-funded political witch hunts," Orlando said, according to the Santa Fe Reporter. "My office fully complied with public records requests and laws and that's why he's left with nothing but baseless innuendos and black-helicopter conspiracy theories."  

D’Antonio has not leveled any criminal charges and has said that there is not sufficient evidence to make any criminal allegations because “there are too many unanswered questions.”

“Let’s assume emails were erased,” he said, according to the Albuquerque Journal. “I don’t know who ordered it, what emails were erased, who did it or if the hard drives were authorized to be destroyed. It would be careless to start making criminal accusations. If appropriate, the (state) Attorney General could step in if he thinks a criminal investigation is warranted.”

Martinez has remained quiet on the matter, but the issue highlights the animosity between D'Antonio's office and the former Martinez-appointed Orlando. 

D'Antonio’s office revealed emails showing that Orlando directed her staff to lie about changes to her calendar access, requested that one staffer not tell the incoming D'Anontio administration how to obtain up to $300,000 in federal grant money for the office and that Orlando tipped off Republican political operative Jay McCleskey about a criminal investigation into GOP voter fraud, according to the advocacy group Progress Now New Mexico.

“In addition to the missing emails,” the report states. “Information was uncovered that showed that employees were being secretly monitored and that the previous administration was trying to make the transition difficult.”

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