ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - The man behind the embarrassing release of internal e-mails from Gov. Susana Martinez's election campaign website had been the man in charge of the campaign, a federal grand jury indictment announced Thursday alleges.
The 14-count indictment charges Jamie Estrada, 40, with unlawfully intercepting wire communications and then lying to the FBI about it.
Estrada has yet to be arraigned or enter a plea to the charges. He had been Martinez's campaign manager for a handful of months until she says she fired him in December 2009.
"[Estrada] was someone of suspect character and I didn't want him working in my administration, I didn't give him a job," Martinez said in an interview with News 13.
The indictment alleges Estrada used a prepaid gift card to hijack the Martinez campaign website susana2010.com when its domain registration expired in 2011. By then Estrada had refused to provide user names and passwords necessary for the campaign to retain control of the website and related e-mail accounts, according to the indictment.
"This indictment reflects the high value that my office places on preserving the integrity of our electronic communications in a digital age," U.S. Attorney Kenneth Gonzales said in a statement released by his office. "In a time when so much of our personal, professional and financial information is repeatedly transmitted on a daily basis over e-mail and other means of wire communication, it is of paramount importance that we protect electronic information from being diverted, stolen or otherwise misappropriated."
The statement identified Estrada as the Martinez campaign manager, but online sources say he was the acting campaign manager from about August 2009 until a permanent manager was hired in January 2010.
The contents of some of the e-mail became public through releases by the liberal Independent Source PAC leading to high-profile controversies including:
- Comments by Republican National Committeeman Pat Rogers that offended some Native American leaders and led to his resignation as vice president of a prominent Albuquerque law firm and board member of the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government.
- The Public Education Department providing teacher information to one of Martinez's political advisers.
- Allegations of collusion between Martinez advisers and representatives of the group that won the lease at The Downs racino in Albuquerque.
- Allegations that the Martinez administration used private e-mail to conduct public business .
The executive director of Independent Source PAC said at the time the e-mails had been obtained legally from a source who purchased the campaign domain name at auction after the registration expired.
Estrada, in a statement released through his attorney, declared his innocence and said public officials are coming after him to distract attention from the Downs racino deal.
Martinez says she feels vindicated by the indictment.
"A lot of people were affected in this case and I want the message to be that you're going to be held accountable," Martinez said.
The U.S. Attorney's Office, when queried by News 13 about possible additional indictments, said it does not comment on active investigations.
On his online Facebook page last updated from the Republican National Convention in August 2012 Estrada identifies himself as a vice president of DW Turner, an Albuquerque-based public affairs firm, and as deputy assistant secretary of commerce for manufacturing in the administration of President George W. Bush.
He ran for a seat on the Public Regulation Commission in 2010 and an at-large delegate to the 2012 convention.
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