Last month, staff writer Joey Peters and I received a cryptic email from Pat Rogers.
Readers might recall Rogers was the attorney, lobbyist and Republican National Committeeman who resigned from the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government and from his law firm last summer after SFR and other media outlets revealed he communicated with top staffers of Republican Gov. Susana Martinez' administration on their private email accounts. The attorney hailed for his commitment to open government had in fact been connecting top Martinez staffers with his corporate clients in the shadows of a private email network—further away from those pesky open records laws that allow citizens to inspect emails of government officials concerning state business.
The emails also showed Rogers had a habit of employing barnyard vocabulary. It turns out that hasn't changed much.
Before we get to that, a little background is in order.
On March 11, Rogers wrote to SFR:
"Due to a recent request, I had occasion to review some emails and ran across my email to you, below. Did the SF Reporter record any calls by Mr. [Michael] Corwin or any other Democrats listed in my emails? Or any person involved in the use or dissemination of the stolen emails?"
(Rogers clearly isn't a fan of Corwin, the director of the liberal super PAC, Independent Source PAC, who leaked emails from Gov. Martinez' campaign accounts to media outlets. Rogers' emails to those accounts were included in the leaks. It's worth noting here that, after an investigation that's lasted at
least eight months, the FBI hasn't confirmed that the emails are
"stolen," as Rogers contends. Corwin has said he obtained the emails from an unnamed source, who purchased Martinez' campaign domain name after it expired).
"Did you destroy the recordings?" Rogers asked in the email. "After my request?"
SFR reached out to Rogers after he sent the March 11 email. We arranged a time to talk. He never returned our calls. So SFR checked in with Rogers on April 9.
The conversation quickly turned ugly after SFR asked Rogers what his email was referencing.
"You jerks included a publication of an attorney-client privileged portion of my email to a client and—for God-knows-what reason—decided that you had to publish a portion of the email that has nothing to do with me or any political figures and can only be used to embarrass a young woman," he said. "Are you reading your own articles?"
SFR has published plenty of Rogers' emails. So we asked him which one he was referencing.
"You dumb fuck," he replied. "Did you look at that last publication? Where you—where you word-for-word put down my email to [the governor's chief of staff] Keith Gardner. You know what you included in there? Why don't you read that and call me back."
Here's the audio of our first conversation:
SFR, which is published every Wednesday, looked at our "last publication." Nothing about Rogers there. So SFR called Rogers back after checking our "last publication" and confessed that we were confused. He said the email appeared in SFR "about a month ago." He then attempted to "interview" SFR, asking why SFR published the email. SFR pointed out that we didn't know what email he was talking about. Rogers claimed SFR published the email in December. SFR asked if he was referencing the Year in Closed Government article we published that month. He then claimed SFR published the email he was referencing in late January.
SFR's most recent publication of one of Rogers' emails came in a March 13 blog post about the governor's office's response to our public-records request.
Rogers' correspondence with SFR raises one interesting question: If SFR has published attorney-client privileged information—and if this information was, as Rogers suggests, revealed in one of his emails to Gardner—does that mean that Rogers is Gardner's attorney?
Rogers did not respond to SFR's subsequent requests for clarification. In our conversation with him yesterday, in which Rogers attempted to "interview" SFR, he also indicated that he plans to sue someone over the publication of his emails to government officials.
"Am I preparing for litigation?" Rogers said in response to a question from SFR. "Yes, I am."
SFR asked if he was preparing to sue somebody in relation to the "email case."
"Yeah," he responded.
SFR then heard a clamoring in the background.
"OK. Just a second here," Rogers said. More clamoring was heard in the background. "If you're not going to give me copies of our conversations," Rogers said, "then I've got to record them as well."
He announced the date and time (apparently to an audio recorder) and stated that he was speaking with "Justin Peters"—a conflation of staff writer Joey Peters and myself that brought some pretty serious chuckles from the newsroom.
"What are we doing here?" he replied to a query from SFR. "I'm interviewing you! How do you like it? How do you like it?"
We asked why Rogers was interviewing SFR.
"I'm getting background," he replied. "You asked me if I'm going to do something about those emails, and the answer is yes."
"OK," SFR said. "And who are you preparing to sue?"
"I haven't decided yet," came Rogers' reply.