Governor Martinez Ignores the Real Issue: Her Own Chief of Staff Admitted His Conduct Could Send Him to Jail

Governor Martinez used to be a prosecutor whose job was to represent Dona Ana county against criminals. She often mentions with fierce pride her former role in the criminal justice system. 

Why then does she completely disregard the recorded admission, by her own chief of staff Keith Gardner, that he conceals his communications in order to keep from going to jail?

The “context” of why or to whom Gardner made that statement doesn’t matter.  These have nothing to do at all with the fact that HE ADMITTED HIS ACTIONS COULD SEND HIM TO JAIL IF THE PUBLIC FOUND OUT ABOUT THEM.

Gardner is not some low level state employee. HE IS THE CHIEF OF STAFF to  Governor Martinez. Yet, Governor Martinez has refused to address the issue that her highest level staff member deliberately evades the law. 

Yesterday, KOB TV released a portion of the audiotape that sounds very much as if Gardner is telling Brian Powell (the person recording the tape) that he might need him to take over as the State Fair Manager, because the manager has really screwed up and might need to be fired.

THE DIRTY DOWNS DEAL POPS UP AGAIN!

This conversation  occurred just three days after Republican Charlotte Rode, the state fair commissioner appointed by Governor Martinez, met with Gardner to express HER concerns over the manner in which the billion dollar plus racino contract was awarded to the Downs at Albuquerque.

Rode’s concerns were dismissed outright by Gardner.  As it turns out, the state fair manager under attack by Gardner, Dan Mourning, had been one of the folks who recommended Rode for the commission.

As ISPAC previously covered, emails from the Downs attorney Pat Rogers to Keith Gardner, Deputy Chief of Staff Ryan Cangiolosi, and Martinez’s political guru Jay McCleskey, may very well have been admissions of involvement in a conspiracy to rig the awarding of the contract.

We are aware that Gardner and Cangiolosi did not respond to Rogers emails. Clearly if they did conspire to rig the contract award, Gardner could expect to serve jail time if caught. So of course there were no email responses to Rogers. 

We also  know from emails previously released by ISPAC that Rogers and others, including Department of Finance Admission Deputy Secretary Duffy Rodriguez, would send emails asking Gardner, Cangiolosi, and Republican operative Adam Feldman to call them on the phone. Sometimes this request was made only in the subject line, with little or no content in the email itself.

This tends to support Gardner’s own admission that he goes “off-line” to discuss things that are likely to have legal consequences.  Although he denies it, Gardner advised other Martinez cabinet members to also avoid communicating and conducting government business in a manner that could be exposed to the public and lead to prosecution.

Governor Martinez, as a former prosecutor, should be the first to call for Gardner’s resignation. Clearly, his words indicate he is aware his actions may put him at risk for prosecution. But instead of acting like a leader and making heads roll, she claims that Gardner is a victim and attacks the messenger.

We can only conclude that this governor, who was elected by folks who believed in her campaign for transparency in government and against government corruption, accepts and condones illegal conduct in her own administration. 

Shame on former prosecutor, Governor Susana Martinez. 

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