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keith gardner

Roswell Man Secretly Recorded Gov. Staffer to Secure Evidence

Keith Gardner might have prevented crucial testimony in sexual assault case, the man says.

September 7, 2012, 9:50 am
By Justin Horwath
A Roswell Fire Department official said in a statement Thursday that he secretly recorded a conversation with the governor's chief of staff, Keith  Gardner, because he had reason to believe Gardner might be motivated to prevent "crucial testimony" in a sexual assault case involving the man's daughter.

"The preliminary hearing involved my daughter as the victim of sexual abuse," Brian Powell, an official at the Roswell Fire Department, says in the statement. "[And] a critical witness had suddenly expressed reluctance to testify. I believed this witness and the testimony at issue might be what Mr. Gardner wanted to discuss with me, and I felt it necessary to preserve the conversation, verbatim, just in case."

The governor's office has not returned several SFR requests for comment.

Earlier this week Powell's attorney, Sam Bregman, released a 25-second version of the recording of the October 14 conversation to reporters at a press conference. In the edited recording, Gardner is quoted as saying that he "never email[s] on my state email anything that can come back and bite my ass."

"It’s all done offline," he says. "It’s all done on different stuff. Because I don’t want to go to court and jail."

That statement by Gardner apparently prompted Powell, who calls himself a Republican, to allow Bregman to release the recording. "I understand the issue related to email is directly involved in another case," he says in the statement, which SFR obtained from Bregman. "And I gave Mr. Bregman my permission to make the recording a matter of public record for that reason." The "other case" Powell is referencing is the wrongful termination case by former Department of Corrections official Larry Flynn. Bregman is Flynn's attorney on that case.

Gov. Susana Martinez's administration unleashed a swift attack on Bregman--who is active in Democratic Party politics and reportedly considering a gubernatorial run in 2014--after he released the recording. They said the edited version of the October 14 conversation, which lasted more than an hour, was out of context and that Bregman had political reasons to discredit the administration. The Albuquerque attorney responded by releasing a longer version of it. Channel 4 KOB News reports it shows Gardner offering Powell a state job.

Mysteriously at center of the political intrigue this week has been Powell, whose motivations for secretly recording the conversation with Gardner, a former acquaintance, and allowing Bregman to release it have been unclear to this point. The Roswell father says in the statement that he promptly turned the conversation to the local district attorney and that releasing the recording was "the right thing, the honest thing, to do."

My name is Brian Powell. On October 14, 2011, I recorded a conversation I had with Keith Gardner, the chief of staff for Governor Susana Martinez. I recorded this conversation because I had reason to believe Mr. Gardner might be motivated to prevent crucial testimony by a witness at an upcoming preliminary hearing. The preliminary hearing involved my daughter as the victim of sexual abuse, and a critical witness had suddenly expressed reluctance to testify. I believed this witness and the testimony at issue might be what Mr. Gardner wanted to discuss with me, and I felt it necessary to preserve the conversation, verbatim, just in case. After the conversation was over, I promptly turned the recording over to the district attorney who was prosecuting the case.

Subsequently I heard through the media that Mr. Gardner claimed he did not use private e-mails to conduct state business, and I remembered that during our conversation Mr. Gardner had stated "I never use my state e-mail, cuz it's all done on different stuff. I don't want to go go to court or jail." Suddenly this statement was relevant to an on-going investigation, and I felt an obligation to come forward. I provided the recording to Mr. Sam Bregman. I understand the issue related to email is directly involved in another case, and I gave Mr. Bregman my permission to make the recording a matter of public record for that reason.

Mr. Gardner's relative was not a victim in the case, only my daughter, and I came forward with the tape due to the disturbing statements by Mr. Gardner about avoidance of use of his government email in light of current events. I came forward with reluctance because I want to protect my daughter from any more pain, but I felt an obligation to bring this to light. This is not political. I am a republican and voted for Governor Susana Martinez. As part of her cabinet, Mr. Gardner is a public servant and owes the public a duty of candor. I did this because it seemed like the right thing, the honest thing, to do, given the public statements which contradicted Mr. Gardner's blatant comments made during our conversation. Please refer all questions to my attorney, Mr. Sam Bregman.



 

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