New Mexico State Police has launched an internal investigation into an officer who told supervisors in April that he was directed by “higher-ups” – including former Doña Ana County District Attorney Amy Orlando – to record a conversation with the new district attorney who won election over Orlando in November.
Officer Raul Robles said in a memo to supervisors that Orlando and her former deputy district attorney, Steven Blankinship – both of whom now work for the administration of Republican Gov. Susana Martinez – asked him to record a meeting with Democratic District Attorney Mark D’Antonio related to last year’s corruption investigation of Sunland Park officials.
Robles said in the memo that after conferring with a sergeant, he decided not to record the meeting and he apologized to State Police officials for wrongfully referring to Orlando and Blankinship as his “higher-ups.”
Orlando now works as an associate deputy director for juvenile justice services in the state Children, Youth and Families Department. Blankinship works as a staff attorney in the Governor’s Office.
Orlando said Wednesday that Robles contacted her as a friend to express his concern that D’Antonio might consider dropping the Sunland Park case they worked on together in 2012 before D’Antonio took office.
Orlando said she never directed Robles to record his meeting with her successor.
“I suggested that if he has those concerns about the meeting that he could bring another officer along with him – it was never suggested that he record the meeting,” Orlando said in an email to the Journal .
“The memo is false and I have provided the State Police with evidence that completely discredits it,” she said.
D’Antonio did not return calls for comment Wednesday.
State Police Chief Robert Shilling said in an email that the pending internal affairs investigation into Robles’ actions refutes statements in the memo, but he did not provide specific details.
“We have initiated an internal administrative investigation into this matter. Information received thus far appears to significantly contradict the assertions in the memo,” Shilling said. “Because it is personnel matter, no further comment will be made.”
Robles’ memo was made public this week by the political advocacy group ProgressNow New Mexico. Director Pat Davis said the memo is evidence the Martinez administration is targeting political opponents.
Governor’s spokesman Enrique Knell said Martinez disputes the claim that administration employees with unrelated responsibilities directed Robles to record a conversation with Orlando’s political opponent.
“This is a wild-eyed smear that has nothing to do with the Governor’s Office,” Knell said. “The governor isn’t familiar with that meeting at all.”