New evidence suggests New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez and her campaign staff used federal databases and resources to spy on Democrats during her first run for governor in 2010, according to a press release Wednesday from a New Mexico advocacy group called ProgressNowNM. Emails previously released by the group showed then-District Attorney Martinez’s top prosecutor and investigator emailing internal case files and evidence from investigations into GOP voter fraud to her campaign manager days before the election.
“First we found that prosecutors and investigators tipped off Republican operatives about an investigation into GOP voter fraud just before the election and now we learn that anyone with a Democratic bumper sticker was subject to spying and a background check,” said Patrick Davis, spokesman for ProgressNowNM, in the press release.
Martinez faces re-election in two weeks for a second term, and is often mentioned as a potential Republican candidate for the 2016 presidential election. Mother Jones magazine first published allegations of Martinez’s political espionage earlier this year, noting, “despite numerous requests, the governor and her aides declined to comment for this piece.” But in reply to an inquiry for comment Wednesday, Chris Sanchez, spokesman for Martinez, told Internation Business Times the claims are "ridiculous" and have been "disproved."
In a recent interview with a former staff member, the Santa Fe Reporter exposed alleged evidence of Martinez’s unlawful political espionage in an article published Tuesday. Anissa Ford, the former staffer, told the Reporter that Martinez asked her take a picture of an anti-Martinez bumper sticker on a car and send it to an investigator in Martinez’s Third Judicial District Attorney’s Office. The bumper sticker read, “Say No To Susana la Tejana,” a phrase used by Democrats at the time as a dig against Martinez. The investigator used law enforcement databases to trace the vehicle’s owner using its license plate number in the photo, Ford told the Santa Fe Reporter.
Sanchez said these allegations have already been discredited. "It is simply reckless and bad journalism to try to breathe life into baseless smear by a disgruntled hack whose home was raided by the FBI for her involvement in federal crimes and from a politician whose campaign beneffited from thefederal crimes for which his operative is now going to prison," Sanchez wrote in an email Wednesday.
In response to Sanchez's comments, the article's author, Justin Horwath of the Santa Fe Reporter, called on Martinez to directly respond to the questions raised in his article. "We've been posing these questions to Martinez's team since at least April. But the governor and her advisers have so far failed to address the evidence that they misused taxpayer resources for a political campaign," Horwath wrote in an email Wednesday night.
In September, Mark D’Antonio announced that emails from the Martinez administration had been “intentionally destroyed” before he took office as the new district attorney. ProgressNowNM then discovered some of these emails were saved in a “secret” archive system in Albuquerque put in place by the Martinez administration. Federal law prohibits using official databases for political purposes.
“We see a picture of administration acting without any regard for the law. It’s time for a full outside investigation,” Davis said in the press release.