Summer 2009: Las Cruces District Attorney Susana Martinez, a Republican, launches her campaign for governor. She makes ending corruption a central talking point, promising to bring a new level of transparency to state government.
July 2009: Jamie Estrada begins working as Martinez’ interim campaign manager. He’s given access and a username to the campaign domain, Susana2010.com.
December 2009: Estrada leaves Martinez’ campaign. Years later, Martinez says she fired Estrada for his “suspect character.” (In an email sent to Jay McCleskey, the governor’s top political adviser, on Dec. 23, Estrada allegedly wrote, “I can’t understand how she wouldn’t think there are political consequences for treating me poorly and unfairly.”) Estrada launches a bid for the Public Regulation Commission and later denies he was ever fired from the campaign.
June 2010: Martinez wins the Republican nomination for governor; Estrada loses the Republican primary for a seat on the PRC.
July 2010: Email records later released by Estrada’s attorney, Zachary Ives, appear to show Martinez personally contacting Estrada to ask if it’s “ok” that she give him “a check for $5,000 and I will try to do another $5,000 in a month or two to pay you for your help and support.” After Estrada apparently forwarded the message to McCleskey, thanking him for “anything you did to make this happen,” McCleskey replies, “No worries...you deserve it.”
July 2, 2012: Political reporter Heath Haussamen calls on Rogers to resign from FOG, arguing that the emails show Rogers communicating about the Downs contract “with people close to Martinez privately—hidden from the government sunshine for which he’s spent so much time fighting.”
July 17, 2012: After receiving roughly 65 printed copies of leaked emails from Independent Source PAC, most of which illuminated Rogers’ key influence with the Martinez administration, SFR publishes the Rogers profile “A Higher Power.” The emails reveal a more extensive private email network within the administration. Several media outlets subsequently pick up the story.
July 21, 2012: Rogers resigns from the FOG board, saying that his leave will allow FOG to continue its open government mission and “avoid further distractions by an issue that has become improperly politicized.”
Aug. 7, 2012: More than one month after filing the June 20 records request, SFR has still not heard from the governor’s office. SFR sends an email to the governor’s office asking for an update.
Aug. 14, 2012: The governor’s office responds to SFR’s records request with only one unrelated email sent to Scott Darnell’s SusanaPac.com email address. Notably absent is the Behrens email listing nonunion teachers that was sent to Darnell’s SusanaPAC address on May 2. Both the date and address were listed in SFR’s record request. SFR files a formal Inspection of Public Records (IPRA) complaint with Attorney General Gary King’s office.
Nov. 14, 2012: Based on ISPAC’s public statements that it turned over all of the Susana2010 emails to the Attorney General, SFR files a public-records request for the emails.
Nov. 30, 2012: The AG’s Office complies with SFR’s request and hands over hundreds of emails it received from ISPAC, which include bank statements and personal purchases.
Feb. 5, 2013: In response to SFR’s IPRA complaint, the Attorney General’s office writes a letter to the governor’s office asserting that its office didn’t properly respond to SFR’s June 20, 2012 records request. The Albuquerque Journal soon reports on the developments.
Feb. 8, 2013: The Albuquerque Journal changes the tone of its story on the SFR IPRA complaint and softens its language about the governor’s office. The governor’s office accuses the attorney general of “playing politics” with public records.
May 30-31, 2013: Using social media, Martinez’ supporters attempt to discredit SFR’s reporting on the Downs. KRQE-TV reports that SFR’s “Downs Doings” is “not accurate” and that unidentified “sources” tell them the FBI is only investigating the emails. (Later proven wrong, KRQE still refuses to retract its original statement about SFR’s story.)
May 30, 2013: Estrada is indicted on federal charges of illegally intercepting emails intended for the governor and her top staffers, and then lying to federal authorities about it. Martinez says the indictment is vindication of what she had been saying all along—that the emails were unlawfully obtained. Estrada releases a statement maintaining his innocence and alleging that “individuals in whom the public has placed its trust have come after me in an attempt to divert attention from their own improper actions, including the suspected Albuquerque Downs racino bid rigging.”
June 1, 2013: Former Martinez campaign finance director Andrea Goff comes forward “due to intense speculation and misinformation” and says she recently complied with an FBI request to “answer questions related to various activities including those related to the Downs racino.” She adds that the FBI’s questions for her “were not related to the recent investigation and indictment of Jamie Estrada,” verifying the accuracy of SFR’s reporting.
June 3, 2013: Democratic Party operative Jason Loera is indicted for possessing child pornography. SFR reports that Loera’s house was originally searched by the FBI in relation to Emailgate.
June 4, 2013: The Albuquerque Journal publishes a news story on Goff’s statement three days after its release. The story quotes the governor’s spokesman, Enrique Knell, claiming that FBI interviews about the Downs did pertain to the email investigation. It quotes McCleskey claiming that no one associated with Susana PAC or any other “political organizations aligned with Martinez” has been interviewed or subpoenaed in relation to a possible Downs investigation.
June 5, 2013: The US Attorneys Office unseals affidavits for the search warrants linking former Martinez campaign assistant Anissa Ford, Loera and liberal-leaning Independent Source PAC contributor Bruce Wetherbee. The affidavits say that Estrada sent the Susana2010 emails to them. Ford’s attorney says she only served as a witness in the Emailgate case. The affidavits on Loera confirm that his house and computer was originally searched for ties to Emailgate. Wetherbee, who with ISPAC leaked some of the Susana2010 emails to the media, says the FBI never searched or interviewed him. He refuses to give his source’s name. Another connection is made with Sam Bregman, chair of the NM Dems and power lawyer.
June 17, 2013: At his arraignment in Albuquerque, Estrada pleads not guilty. “This is just the very beginning of a legal process that will allow us to expose legal and factual problems with the government’s case,” his attorney, Zachary Ives, says in a statement.