June 13, 2012
American Federation of Teachers Speaks Out Against Government Resources Being Used for Political Purposes
ALBUQUERQUE – According to a report in the Santa Fe New Mexican, Independent Source PAC recently unearthed an email exchange between high-level PED officials and administrators at the Governor’s Office. These communications suggest that the Public Education Department utilized their Information and Technology Department to create a list of teachers’ emails and then manipulated the list to target non-union teachers.
The lists were sent from the personal email of Larry Behrens, Public Information Officer at the PED, to the personal emails of Jay McCleskey, Political Director of SusanaPAC, Keith Gardner, Chief of Staff at the Governor’s Office and Scott Darnell the Director of Communications at the Governor’s Office. In addition, the email was sent to Secretary Designate Hanna Skandera and Christine Stavem, the newly resigned Chief of Staff at the PED.
“It is evident that government resources including computers and staff were utilized to pull lists of educational employees for SusanaPAC,” said AFT NM President Stephanie Ly. “Using government resources to develop a targeted list for political purposes is potentially an ethical violation.”
The email, sent during working hours, contained lists compiled by the PED’s Information and Technology Department, filtering non-union educators from union educators which creates a larger issue for union officials.
“It is never okay for a political organization to request information separating union members from those who are not protected under a collective bargaining agreement. This was a questionable request with questionable intent and conducted in a questionable manner,” said ATF President Ellen Bernstein, “My members are I accountable for our actions, and we are holding the governor to the same standards”.
Governor Martinez and Secretary Designee Hanna Skandera have continued to push failed Florida Reforms instead of working with educators and community partners to address New Mexico’s education challenges appropriately. This information was requested a month before the June 5th primaries. Contributors to Susana PAC funded Reform for New Mexico that played heavily against AFT endorsed candidates statewide.