Politics of who does what to whom

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By Hal Rhodes

A great many people deem politics to be vile in the extreme. For them it all boils down to endless batteries of charges and counter charges, boasts and balderdash. And there’s something to be said for that point of view, especially the balderdash bit.
But it’s also true that politics is often about who does what to whom, why and when. Certainly that’s the impression one comes away with these days after witnessing the bumping of important heads in and around the administration of Gov. Susana Martinez.
Case in point is the erstwhile New Mexico Republican consultant Jamie Estrada, who is expected to be arraigned this week for unlawfully hacking into Martinez’s email account. Martinez reacted to news of Estrada’s indictment with a good deal of huffing and puffing about how she’d been saying all along that someone had wrongfully snooped into her emails.
Estrada, she opined, is “a man of suspect character.”
Of course, back when she was simply the district attorney of Doña Ana County, Susana Martinez obviously thought well enough of Estrada’s character to make him the campaign manager of her 2010 race for governor.
Estrada hails from Las Cruces and was reportedly close to the local district attorney. He also interned for Pete Domenici at some point in his tenure as a Republican U.S. senator.
The governor says she fired him. Estrada says that’s not true. Which is par for the “charges and counter charges” course.
Recently, however, things got a little more curious when the governor’s former 2010 campaign finance director, Andrea Goff, made headlines by letting it be known that the FBI had interviewed her about, among other things, a controversial Albuquerque Downs racino lease Martinez authorized on becoming governor.
Goff’s announcement added flesh to a recent news account in the weekly Santa Fe Reporter, which reported that apparently other “former campaign staffers for Republican Gov. Susana Martinez” had also been interrogated by the FBI “about a lucrative racino lease awarded to a politically connected company.” On top of that, the lawyer for another former Martinez campaign staffer, Anisa Ford, has acknowledged that his client has also been interviewed about the Downs racino lease.
What we have here is a case of the “who” (namely prominent Republicans) doing you-know-what to “whom” (namely other prominent Republicans), leaving dubious onlookers to nurture their suspicions.
The governor has characterized her ex-campaign chief’s indictment as vindication of her charges about being snooped on. But there is also the implication here that the FBI only unearthed Estrada’s alleged misconduct in the course of pursuing possible wrongdoing in the Martinez administration’s handling of that questionable racino contract.
Meanwhile another set of “whos” came rushing to the governor’s rescue last week, and an interesting bunch of “whos” it was, indeed.
Four of New Mexico’s five-member congressional delegation are Democrats. Yet last week the entire delegation joined to introduce a “Bill to Protect Special-Ed Federal Funding for New Mexico.”
Seems after Susan Martinez took office in 2011, someone dropped the ball and New Mexico failed to meet its financial obligations in order to qualify for $34 million federal dollars for Special Education programs. So now New Mexico’s four Democratic members of Congress are trying to undo the damage.
Thus, goes the latest on who’s doing what for and/or to whom in New Mexico politics.