Albuquerque lawyer and lobbyist Patrick Rogers has stepped down from the board of the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government.
Rogers wrote in a letter that his resignation will allow NMFOG to concentrate on its First Amendment and open government mission, "and avoid further distractions by an issue that has become improperly politicized."
The issue Rogers is referencing is his communication with top officials in Gov. Susana Martinez's administration on their private email accounts. That might allow officials to circumvent the state's open records laws that let the public to inspect emails on government accounts. NMFOG has condemned the practice of officials in Martinez's administration conducting state business on private email accounts.
Emails published this week by the Santa Fe Reporter illustrate that Rogers' communication with government officials on their private accounts was much more extensive than previously revealed. He frequently sent messages to the private accounts of the aides closest to the governor, attempting to connect them with the corporate clients he represents in his lobbying practice.
Rogers wrote in his resignation letter that the "emails...were never received by the intended recipients."
But SFR reported that in one email exchange, Keith Gardner, Martinez's chief of staff, replied to an email from Rogers on Gardner's Gmail account. Rogers had requested that a meeting between Gardner and executives from Scientific Games International Inc., a provider of products to lotteries, be moved to the Inn at Loretto. "It's more private," Rogers wrote.
"That will be great," Gardner replied.
"You may be a man of many email addresses," Rogers had written to Gardner earlier, when the lobbyist was trying to orchestrate the meeting. "[But] I have most of them."
Dear Ms. Cole and Members of the NMFOG Executive Committee:
Although I appreciate the effort of the NMFOG Executive Board to schedule a meeting to discuss Mr. Haussamen’s concerns about my continuing membership in NMFOG, it is clear that this, my prompt resignation will allow NMFOG and all of the NMFOG volunteers to concentrate on your critical First Amendment and open government mission and avoid further distractions by an issue that has become improperly politicized.
While even the most virulent partisans calling for my NMFOG resignation admit (as they must) that my actions were always lawful, it is also a fact I sent e-mails to individuals in government using an address that was not a state-issued address. Use of personal e-mail addresses is a universal practice. My attempted use, however, as highlighted by the publication of certain portions of the stolen emails (emails that were never received by the intended recipients) has become a significant distraction for this organization. Moving forward, perhaps NMFOG can recommend changes to update the state law on this issue and develop an approach that is consistently applied to all government and to all persons interacting with government.
It has been a significant honor to represent NMFOG in court, before the Legislature and in the community. I hope NMFOG continues to perform its important work and continues to prosper and grow. In calling for my resignation, Mr. Haussamen also notes that my service as New Mexico’s National Committeeman to the Republican National Committee gave him concerns, as well: ‘I wondered how he would be able to juggle heavy involvement in a nonpartisan government watchdog organization with such a partisan position’.”
Perhaps to avoid embarrassing me any further, he does not note my related work as the former General Counsel to the New Mexico Republican Party and my representation of various Republican presidential candidates, Ralph Nader, and the many elected Republican officials, committees, and candidates over the years. In addition to open government, I believe that political participation, competition, debate and principled dissent are also vital to the health of our society. I am honored and proud of my work for all of my clients. My clients, as NMFOG did, receive zealous representation all within the bounds of the law and professional ethics.
Please extend my appreciation and best personal wishes to the entire NMFOG Board.