After a long and varied career in state government, another of Gov. Susana Martinez’ cabinet officials has resigned.
In October, Dorothy “Duffy” Rodriguez, who most recently held two positions—one as the deputy secretary of budget and policy for the Department of Finance and Administration, and another as Martinez’ cabinet director for several other state agencies, including DFA—quietly resigned.
News of her resignation didn’t break until last week, when Tim Korte, DFA’s public information officer, confirmed it with SFR. “Duffy has decided to leave Santa Fe to be closer to family,” Korte writes in an email. “She is exploring new career opportunities but hasn’t decided on anything yet.”
Like any career, Rodriguez’ has seen highs and lows. She has held various posts, some of them highly influential, over nearly two decades. During that time, she’s had public and private run-ins with other state officials, and is currently named in a whistleblower lawsuit filed by state Department of Health employee Bob Ortiz.
But most people interviewed for this story spoke highly of her financial and budgetary skills—and many wonder why she resigned. (Through Korte, Rodriguez—who also resigned from her DOH post in 2010 citing family reasons—declined two interview requests.)
State Sen. Stuart Ingle, R-Chaves, has known Rodriguez for “15—maybe 20 years.”
“She knows her stuff,” he says, referring to budget matters. “Experience is the best teacher there is.”
“To me, she’s one of the most capable people in Santa Fe,” adds outgoing state Rep. Andy Nunez, I-Doña Ana. “She’s one that everybody turned to when they wanted facts and figures on finance and all that, and she’s really one that people depended on.”
She also knew how to exercise her influence. Last November, Rodriguez sent an email from her Yahoo account to the private email accounts of Keith Gardner, the governor’s chief of staff, and Jay McCleskey, the governor’s political adviser, who is not a government employee.
The email made references to New Mexico Public Education Department Secretary-designate Hanna Skandera and an “Abbey”—most likely Legislative Finance Committee Director David Abbey.
“She hates me but that’s OK,” Rodriguez wrote of Skandera. “I made it clear my whole end game was to protect the Governor on all this kind of stuff and let the Governor propose what she wants and the way she wants and not have it dictated by Abbey et. al.”
“Sorry you all had to get involved but truly what we did to Gov on that conference call was not fair at all!!” she continued. “Half the flippin budget and a decision after a long day’s work, out of state, etc. Yikes!”
It wasn’t the first time Rodriguez had butted heads with other state officials. Ortiz, a former deputy director in DOH’s Administrative Services Bureau, alleges in an ongoing lawsuit that DOH leadership fired him for reporting accounting errors. Specifically, Ortiz claims Rodriguez and others told him to list a $1.7 million expenditure under the wrong year in order to make the books line up. A hearing is set for the spring of 2014.
Ortiz says he thinks Rodriguez’ skills lay in the budgeting process—planning how to spend money. But when it came to the “nuts and bolts” of accounting—actually spending that money—she was “not so knowledgeable.”
SFR first interviewed Ortiz in 2010, after reporting on a complaint emailed to state lawmakers about a “circle of trust” led by Rodriguez, among others [SFReporter.com, Dec. 4, 2009: “Feet to the Fire”]. After SFR reported Rodriguez’ resignation from DFA last week, commenters on the unofficial DOH employee website nmdohcrisis.com showed little regret.
“Talk about an early Christmas gift,” one wrote. “This restores my faith in Karma.”
But Rodriguez also enjoyed a level of camaraderie with top Martinez administration staffers, according to another email obtained, in a public records request, from the state Attorney General’s Office.
On March 10, a Saturday, she emailed Martinez and her top officials: Communications Director Scott Darnell, Deputy Chief of Staff Ryan Cangiolosi and McCleskey. “Go Lobos, YEAH LOBOS!!” she wrote. “Hope you all had a great time watching the game!! AWESOME WIN!! At some point we need to praise Alford’s Scholar Athletes....important point to make.”
But another email reveals a different dynamic. Rodriguez sent it last November—four days after Republican Tom Tinnin resigned from the state Board of Finance after disagreements with the Downs at Albuquerque racino deal [cover story, Aug. 22: “Trouble at the Ol’ Racino”].
“Feel like I failed you and Governor...!” she wrote to Cangiolosi’s private email account. “I am so very sorry Tinnin did what he did....can’t explain it; it is not the Tinnin I know...Hate that I am a burden as a “D” so I am working on getting out. Let me know if I can help you make millions....I will do whatever it takes!! You are awesome and I hope you and your family have an awesome Thanksgiving. So sorry I disappointed you all…Duffy.”
It’s unclear what Rodriguez meant by helping Cangiolosi “make millions”; Darnell has declined to comment on the content of the emails.
In any case, Cangiolosi did recently get a raise—if not in the millions. Last month, he left his post at the governor’s office for a $10,000 salary increase at the University of New Mexico’s Health Sciences Center.
To see the emails referenced in this story, visit SFReporter.com.