--2 Bob Ortiz Files Suit Against DOH, Requests Correction From Guv's Office
       
Sept. 17, 2014

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Bob Ortiz Files Suit Against DOH, Requests Correction From Guv's Office

July 11, 2012, 1:10 pm
By Joey Peters

 Since speaking to SFR two weeks ago about his intentions to sue the New Mexico Department of Health for violating the state's Whistleblower Protection Act, Bob Ortiz has gotten a lot of press.

The most recent came yesterday when KRQE-TV ran a story about Ortiz' lawsuit, which he officially filed on July 6 (read his full complaint below). The lawsuit alleges that Ortiz, who used to manage large contracts for DOH, was a victim of retaliation for speaking to SFR over the past two years.

Ortiz first spoke to SFR in January 2011 about being instructed from his superiors to commit a $1.7 million fraudulent transaction in the federal Women, Infants and Children program, which provides food and nutrition service to low-income women and children. Since then, Ortiz was stripped of his job duties, put on paid administrative leave for six months and ultimately fired last month. His termination notice cites "irresponsible communication with the media" and cites four SFR news stories.

Along with yesterday's TV news report, KRQE also ran an online version of Ortiz' story with updated material. Part of that includes a statement from an unnamed male spokesman for Gov. Susana Martinez saying "he did not recall Ortiz contacting the governor about the issue."

That prompted Ortiz, who filed a formal complaint to the governor's Chief Counsel Jessica Hernandez on Jan. 21, 2011, to request a correction from Martinez spokesman Scott Darnell today. In an email to Darnell (which he cc'ed SFR and other media organizations on), Ortiz attached the original complaint and asked Darnell to "set the record straight" with KRQE.

"I was dismayed," Ortiz, referring to the statement, tells SFR. "It's a flat out lie."

Ortiz, who had volunteered for Martinez' gubernatorial campaign in 2010, titled his Jan. 21, 2011 email to the governor's office "Reporting Fraud at DOH."

"This is a formal request for the Governor to open an investigation into my August 10, 2009 allegation of fraud in the WIC program at DOH," his email reads. "Up until the week of August 10, 2009 I was the DOH ASD Deputy Director Budgets and Grants until I reported the fraud to then Secretary Vigil and was subsequently threatened by the Acting ASD Director."

That same day, Hernandez replied to Ortiz noting that she was forwarding his concerns onto Chief of Staff Keith Gardner and Deputy Chief of Staff Brian Moore.

"I appreciate you bringing this to our attention," Hernandez wrote back to Ortiz. 

SFR left a voicemail and sent an email to the governor's office and will update this post when/if we hear back from them.

Read the full email exchange, along with Ortiz' legal complaint, below. (Ortiz' personal email and cell number have been redacted for privacy reasons.) For more on Ortiz' allegations, click here and here.

Reporting Fraud at DOH
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Complaint for Whistleblower Protection Act and Inspection of Public Records (2)
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