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Friday, March 12, 2010
Sec. of State: Resignation Over Laziness
By Vic Vela
Journal Northern Bureau
SANTA FE — It was laziness, not concern about supposed lax ethics in the Secretary of State's office, that led to the resignation of the former elections chief, according to the lawyer representing Secretary of State Mary Herrera.
Attorney Sam Bregman quipped Thursday that "the real reason AJ Salazar quit is because he wanted to go on spring break."
But former elections bureau director Salazar called Bregman's claim "absolutely ridiculous," contending Herrera and Bregman "are just trying to do damage control" from his blistering resignation letter that accused her of wrongdoing.
The Journal on Thursday also obtained back-and-forth e-mails between Salazar and Herrera that highlighted their contentious working relationship.
Bregman sent other e-mails to reporters Thursday that contained an exchange between Herrera and Salazar the day before he resigned, Feb. 25.
In those, Salazar requested time off, which Herrera denied. In response, Salazar wrote, "Alright Ma'am. I am not a good fit for your office. I would like to meet with you tomorrow afternoon to tender my resignation. Thank you."
The next day, Salazar wrote a resignation letter that accused her of soliciting money from firms that contract with her office and ordering "exempt" employees to obtain petition signatures for her re-election campaign.
But Bregman told the Journal that Salazar's resignation had nothing to do with any of the concerns voiced in the letter.
"It had everything to do with the fact that he didn't want to work," Bregman said. "It's clear he wasn't a good fit for this office — as he said in the e-mail — and that's because it required a lot of work."
But Salazar, a former deputy district attorney who spent 11 months in the Secretary of State's office, called Bregman's allegation "blatantly false."
When he took the job in April 2009, he became the third person in eight months to fill the position.
In his Feb. 25 e-mail to Herrera, Salazar requested some time off, including one hour to appear in court on a speeding ticket, eight hours to "attend to personal matters" and 32 hours to care for his children during their spring break.
Other e-mails obtained by the Journal showed exchanges between Salazar and Herrera over the legality of her attempt to find "sponsors" from firms contracting with the office to fund break sessions during election seminars for county clerks. Herrera also takes Salazar to task for seeking comment from the Attorney General's Office on whether or not the practice was improper.