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Unreliable Source Continues to Dish Dirt in New Mexico

Local papers feature claims of woman implicated in recent FBI investigation

Gov. Susana Martinez (R., N.M.) / AP
• October 27, 2014 5:45 pm

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A former aide to Gov. Susana Martinez (R., N.M.) who was involved in the hacking of emails from the Martinez campaign and was implicated in the subsequent FBI investigation is now being used as a source for anti-Martinez articles in New Mexico.

The Santa Fe New Mexican last week published allegations made by former Martinez campaign aide Anissa Galassini-Ford that the governor’s office improperly used government databases against political opponents. The article on Ford’s claims was the paper’s cover story last Thursday and was featured on its website for much of the day.

The author of the story, Steve Terrell, notes in the report that "Ford is the only source who has gone public with the charge."

Ford makes the charge as she faces a lawsuit for her involvement with the hacking of Martinez’s campaign email address by Jamie Estrada, who earlier this month was sentenced to federal prison for illegally intercepting Martinez campaign emails and lying to FBI agents.

Due to Ford’s involvement with Estrada, her house was raided by the FBI as part of the investigation.

According to the search warrant applications filed by the FBI Special Agent Michael Boady and approved by federal courts, multiple illegally intercepted emails were sent to Ford and accessed using the internet at the house she owns.

The files were sent to Ford from a Democratic consultant in New Mexico named Jason Loera who received them from Estrada, according to the documents. The FBI used "numerous text messages, chat conversations, and emails" between Estrada, Loera and Ford seized from Estrada’s house to confirm that they all knew each other and that the actions were coordinated.

Loera ended up being charged for possession of child pornography, which was discovered by FBI agents investigating the email hacking case.

Ford, however, did not receive any charges after the investigation. She made a deal with federal prosecutors in exchange for immunity in the case.

Estrada pled guilty to multiple charges for the hacking scandal.

The sentencing memorandum filed last month includes multiple pages of correspondence between Estrada and an individual believed to be Ford. Any information regarding Ford’s identity is redacted from the document, likely as part of her immunity deal with authorities.

Following Estrada’s admission of guilt, a civil lawsuit was filed against Ford, Estrada, Loera, and two others.

When the email hacking scandal was first revealed, Santa Fe New Mexican’s Terrell was skeptical that there was any basis to Martinez’s claims that her emails were stolen.

"I think the governor was kind of shooting from her hip when she was saying, ‘this was stolen, this has to be stolen,’" said Terrell during a public television news program in New Mexico.

When reached for comment on whether he believes that Ford is a reliable source given her recent immunity deal with the FBI and current legal battle in civil court, Terrell said that he would "let the story speak for itself."

Ford claims that she was ordered to send a picture she took of a license plate of a car with anti-Martinez bumper stickers to Kip Scarborough, the investigator for the district attorney, who would run the plates and find out who owned the car.

According to Ford, Scarborough responded, saying "Cool. I will see who it belongs too."

Scarborough, however, has never had access to such records, according to Regina Chacon, chief of the department of public safety’s law enforcement records bureau.

Chacon told the Free Beacon that "at no time has Mr. Scarborough ever had a log-in password to access" the database needed to run the plates of the car.

The motive for Ford to politically attack Martinez is not much different than it was for Estrada, who wanted political revenge for what he felt was bad treatment by Martinez.

"I can’t understand how she wouldn’t think there are political consequences for treating me poorly or unfairly," Estrada wrote after learning that he would not be given a position in Martinez’s administration following the election. He said he felt "feelings of utter humiliation, betrayal, [and] disbelief."

A political consultant for the governor that spoke with the Santa Fe New Mexican called Ford a "disgruntled" former employee. Chris Sanchez, a spokesman for Martinez, had similar feelings about Ford, calling her "a disgruntled hack whose home was raided by the FBI for her involvement in federal crimes."

He added that it was "simply reckless and bad journalism" to use Ford as a way to "breathe life" into a smear that has already been disproven.

Ford, like Estrada, was left without a position in the administration following the 2010 election.

Ford is also widely believed to be the source of a series of audio recordings of conversations between Martinez and her staff that were leaked to Mother Jones, though she has refused to confirm or deny whether she was the source.

Ford did not return a request for comment.

Published under: 2014 Election