SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez has asked the FBI to investigate whether a campaign email system was hacked to obtain correspondence involving her and her top advisers, a spokesman for the governor said Friday.
The allegation of hacking came after a union-funded political action committee released several emails this month that show the governor and top aides used private email addresses to discuss government business. The disclosures led the GOP governor last week to order state workers to end the practice of using nongovernment email accounts.
Critics had said it was unacceptable for state officials to use private email for public business, particularly Martinez, who had touted the need for more governmental transparency.
Martinez spokesman Greg Blair said the governor had used her campaign email address primarily for personal and political emails.
"It is disturbing to learn that some stranger has been intercepting personal emails sent from friends and family," Blair said in a statement Friday.
The request to the FBI is the latest in a fight between the Republican governor and a liberal-leaning political group, Independent Source PAC, that's been one of her leading critics.
The group has asked state and federal authorities to investigate the awarding of a 25-year lease that allows a horse racing track to build a larger casino at the state fairgrounds in Albuquerque.
The PAC contends there was influence peddling in the fairgrounds lease deal, which was approved last year with Martinez's support. The administration maintains there was no preferential treatment.
Independent Source PAC's executive director, Michael Corwin, said Friday that the group received the emails from a source who assured him they were obtained legally. Corwin, who has worked as a private investigator in Democratic campaigns, declined to name the source.
"I did not hack anything. I did not do anything illegal," Corwin said.
FBI spokesman Frank Fisher said the agency "has received information from the governor's office regarding this matter." But he said it's FBI policy to neither confirm nor deny an investigation.
Corwin released several emails this week that had been sent last year to the governor's deputy chief of staff from a lawyer for the Downs at Albuquerque, the horse racing track awarded the fairgrounds lease.
Some of the emails were sent while the state was conducting a competitive bidding process for the lease. Corwin contends that the administration violated state law in not releasing the email in response to his group's public records request seeking correspondence involving the lease for the track and casino. He maintains that email to a private account is a public record when it involves government business.
The administration has said its use of private email hasn't violated state law, and Blair said there was "absolutely nothing wrong with an interested party bringing their concerns to the administration" while the fairground lease was under consideration.
Also Friday, State Fair Commissioner Charlotte Rode said she has filed a complaint with the state auditor's office asking for it to investigate the handling of the racetrack's lease and the administration's management of the fairgrounds. Rode was appointed to the commission by Martinez but has been a vocal opponent of the new lease for the racetrack and casino.
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