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Skandera In Loop On Nonunion Email List

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — State Public Education Secretary-designate Hanna Skandera and her top deputies were aware the department was creating a list of school email addresses of nonunion teachers for the governor’s political adviser.

That could be important, because the office of state Attorney General Gary King is investigating whether public resources were unlawfully used to create the list. The Governmental Conduct Act prohibits use of employee time and other public assets for political purposes.

The Public Education Department provided the list to political adviser Jay McCleskey, who has said it wasn’t what he wanted and that he didn’t use it.

The PED has said it merely responded to a request from McCleskey for publicly available teacher lists. Gov. Susana Martinez has also said she doesn’t believe the Governmental Conduct Act was violated.

Newly released internal PED emails show Skandera and top aides were aware of the work being done to compile the list of nonunion teacher email addresses.

Department spokesman Larry Behrens said Friday that Skandera knew of McCleskey’s request for teacher lists and was aware PED was responding.

“It is normal for the secretary to be aware of our responses to requests” for public records, Behrens said.

The department created a list of school email addresses for teachers statewide, then used that to help make the list of email addresses for only nonunion teachers.

Behrens, using a personal email account, sent both lists to McCleskey in May. He also sent the lists to campaign or other personal email addresses for Skandera and three other administration officials. Skandera then forwarded the lists to a campaign email address for Martinez.

Administration officials have said the email address for the governor was no longer active and that Martinez didn’t see the Skandera email until after news media reports about it.

Behrens has said he erred in using personal email accounts to send the lists, saying the matter was public business and should have been handled on government email accounts.

The department said it created the larger list of teacher email addresses before McCleskey’s request, but it hasn’t denied that the nonunion teacher list was compiled for him. McCleskey has said he was trying to obtain home addresses for teachers and never used the email addresses.

In his email transmitting the lists to McCleskey and the others, Behrens said department employees went through websites school by school to make the list of public school email addresses for teachers statewide.

PED workers then used a list of school districts with collective bargaining agreements to come up with the list of email addresses for nonunion teachers, according to Behrens.

Independent Source PAC, an anti-Martinez group, first disclosed creation of the lists provided to McCleskey. This week, it released more emails on the subject that it obtained through a public-records request with the PED.

In one email, Michael Archibeque, chief information officer for the department, sent the list of email addresses for teachers statewide to Christine Stavem, then chief of staff to Skandera, and Paul Aguilar, deputy Cabinet secretary for PED.

“This is a list we were able to compile in two days,” Archibeque wrote.

The list was far from complete, making its use questionable. Archibeque wrote that his office was able to compile email addresses for only 9,350 of more than 23,000 teachers statewide.

Behrens has said he obtained the list of school districts with collective bargaining agreements from PED’s budget division.

The newly released emails show the union list was sent from the budget division to Aguilar, who then forwarded the list “as requested” to Skandera.

Skandera is one of the most controversial figures in the Martinez administration as a result of the governor’s education reform agenda, and the Senate has declined for two years to vote on her confirmation.

Many of the administration’s proposed reforms are opposed by unions, and McCleskey was looking for a list of nonunion teacher addresses to use to counter union material and try to build support for change.

UpFront is a daily front-page news and opinion column. Comment directly to Thom Cole at tcole@abqjournal.com or 505-992-6280 in Santa Fe. Go to www.abqjournal.com/letters/new to submit a letter to the editor.



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