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Doña Ana DA says emails were destroyed

LAS CRUCES – The Doña Ana County district attorney, in a report that stops short of explaining a motive or bringing formal charges, said Tuesday that the prior administration erased emails and hard drives before leaving office at the end of 2012.

The inquiry by the office of District Attorney Mark D’Antonio, a Democrat, stems from an April 2014 request for records of correspondence related to then-District Attorney Susana Martinez’s first campaign for the governor in 2009 and 2010.

The report concludes that the request – made by the New Mexico Democratic Party – could not be fulfilled because, allegedly, “a large number of office e-mails from former employees had been deleted and/or removed” during the administration of District Attorney Amy Orlando, D’Antonio’s Republican predecessor.

In a response emailed to the Journal on Tuesday, Orlando said the report by D’Antonio’s office contained “baseless innuendos” and called it an “amateurish political stunt on the eve of an election.”

D’Antonio said in a telephone interview that the inquiry makes no criminal allegations because “there are too many unanswered questions.”

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“Let’s assume emails were erased,” he said. “I don’t know who ordered it, what emails were erased, who did it or if the hard drives were authorized to be destroyed. It would be careless to start making criminal accusations. If appropriate, the (state) Attorney General could step in if he thinks a criminal investigation is warranted.”

The findings reveal tensions between the Orlando and D’Antonio administrations. D’Antonio defeated Orlando for re-election in 2012.

“In addition to the missing emails,” the report says, “information was uncovered that showed that employees were being secretly monitored and that the previous administration was trying to make the transition difficult.”

The records request from the Democratic Party asked for emails from Martinez, then-chief deputy district attorney Orlando – who subsequently would serve as district attorney after Martinez’s election as governor – and senior investigator Aaron “Kip” Scarborough for the period from August to December 2010.

Correspondence regarding any references to her 2010 Democratic opponent, Diane Denish, also was sought.

A spokesman for the New Mexico Democratic Party did not respond to a request for comment.

Orlando, in her statement to the Journal, said, “The district attorney’s election was almost two years ago and the citizens of Doña Ana County should expect that the district attorney and his investigators ought to be spending their time on investigating and prosecuting crimes, rather than on taxpayer-funded political witch hunts.”


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