The Santa Fe Reporter is calling on KRQE News 13 to issue an on-air correction to its May 29 broadcast claiming contents of an SFR article are "not accurate."
The broadcast—by reporter Katie Kim and anchor Dick Knipfing—touched on a May 29 SFR article. The article established that the FBI has recently interviewed former campaign staffers for Republican Gov. Susana Martinez about a controversial, multimillion-dollar lease awarded to the Downs at Albuquerque Racetrack & Casino.
The SFR article was based on the statements of multiple anonymous sources who said the FBI interviewed them about the bidding process of the Downs lease, the connections between top Martinez and Downs officials, and consulting payments to Gov. Martinez' top political advisor, Jay McCleskey. SFR confirmed the timeframe and content of FBI interviews with an attorney of one of the campaign staffers interviewed.
"Sharply conflicting stories tonight about who the FBI is or is not investigating in New Mexico," anchor Knipfing said on KRQE's broadcast. "National media outlets are now running a story from a Santa Fe alternative newspaper that claims FBI agents are investigating Governor Susana Martinez’ inner circle. News 13 has learned that is not accurate."
SFR's article never reported that "FBI agents are investigating Governor Susana Martinez' inner circle."
Thus that sentence—televised to perhaps thousands of New Mexicans last night—is inaccurate.
"We are always accountable for what we report, and you are welcome to challenge us," William Anderson, KRQE's president and general manager, writes in an email to SFR. "In this case we have multiple sources behind our story and we are confident in our report."
Nevertheless SFR reported: "But these recent developments suggest the FBI is shifting its examination of the lease to Martinez’ inner circle."
The article stressed—three times—that SFR hasn't confirmed that the FBI has launched a criminal investigation into the Downs deal.
Indeed, the SFR article quoted FBI spokesman Frank Fisher, who wrote that he could neither "confirm or deny" an investigation into the Downs.
"While it remains unclear whether there is, in fact, an FBI investigation," SFR reported, "at least one local agency is investigating the Downs deal." (That's the Office of the State Auditor).
On the contrary, the KRQE story never quoted or cited any federal law enforcement authorities in claiming that SFR's story was "not accurate." Nor has the station clarified the relationship of its own anonymous sources to the federal investigation it cited. SFR granted its sources anonymity because they fear retribution. But SFR did clarify the relationship of its sources to the FBI questions into the Downs.
SFR's sources say the FBI interviews about the Downs were not a part of the FBI's separate investigation into the allegedly intercepted campaign emails of Gov. Martinez and her staffers. SFR's sources say they were called in independently of that investigation.
A federal grand jury recently indicted former Martinez campaign staffer Jamie Estrada on federal charges of "computer intrusion and false statement charges" for allegedly intercepting emails sent to campaign accounts of Martinez and her staffers. Estrada was not one of SFR's sources for its Downs story.
"In fact as you probably are already aware there are developments even this morning that are confirming our story from last night," Anderson added in his email to SFR, referring to the charges against Estrada.
Still, neither Anderson nor KRQE news director Iain Munro responded to multiple phone messages requesting clarification about what, exactly, KRQE believes to be "not accurate"—SFR's story, or other stories that inferred other conclusions about the FBI inquiries into the Downs.
SFR has no record of KRQE trying to contact SFR for its broadcast, posted below.
SFR stands by its reporting.