Tuesday, November 26, 2013

More Threads From That National Journal Piece, Plus: What Now After Susana And Jay's Rocky Ride; A Reader Writes 

We're picking up on some more of the threads left from that sprawling National Journal article on Guv political adviser Jay McCleskey. One of them takes us to the dark money group "NM Competes."

We were first to raise questions about it's relationship to the Governor and McCleskey--and for obvious reasons. The director is Sara Lister, a former deputy cabinet secretary for the Governor and its board of directors are all close associates of McCleskey's.

Under the rules establishing NM Competes--a nonprofit which is allowed to keep its donors and detailed expenditures anonymous--it isn't  permitted to coordinate with the Governor's re-election campaign run by McCleskey. Such coordination is notoriously difficult to prove but in the National Journal piece former Martinez fundraiser Andrea Goff says point blank that the Governor told her that McCleskey who does all her campaign media--would also be running the dark money group. From the article:

McCleskey has publicly denied any involvement with the group, but several sources say they've encountered evidence to suggest otherwise. Goff says that Martinez, in a telephone conversation earlier this year, specifically told her that McCleskey was launching it. (Through her spokesman, Enrique Knell, Martinez denied any involvement in the group.) 

And in early 2011, McCleskey sent an email to another former Martinez operative calling (c)(4)s the "vehicles we'll use." Sara Lister has a long history with McCleskey. Pat Rogers (the state GOP's national committeeman) and Rich Beeson (the former political director for Romney's 2012 presidential campaign) are both on the board. Beeson worked with McCleskey at the RNC; Susana PAC and the governor's campaign have routinely used the Minnesota-based voter-contact firm FLS Connect, where Beeson was a partner.

One other angle: we've received reader reports that the media should look at the physical proximity of the NM Competes offices and those of McCleskey's.

Another story we first broke also received treatment in the National Journal piece--Governor Martinez's snub of Arizona Governor Jan Brewer when she appeared at a NM GOP fund-raiser hosted by businessman Tom Tinnin and former NM GOP Chair Harvey Yates which she had a falling out with. The Governor denied our report that it was a "snub" and told the newspaper she had a scheduling conflict. But

 An email obtained by National Journal appears to be part of an effort by McCleskey to get the Republican Governors Association to convince Brewer to cancel. "He's not a uniter, not somebody who tries to bring people together," says the current state GOP chairman, John Billingsley (who did not leak the email), in his most direct public criticism to date. McCleskey declined to comment directly on the incident.

We saw that same email before we blogged the Guv's snub. Meanwhile, Martinez attended a fund-raiser for the Arizona Republican Party this month. AZ reader Kathryn Carroll notes that the photos released of the event had Jan Brewer nowhere insight.


Lots of email and comments on our Monday blog on the big NM political story of Jay and Susana. What now? A number of readers came with a response to that question including reader Carroll:

Clearly there is now not just a little chink in the armor  and it may now be split wide open, How difficult will it be for Susana and Jay to put the genie back in the bottle? Bill Richardson is probably smiling from ear to ear.

As for "What Now?"---a few thoughts come to mind.  #1 is how will this be received by the national and local media, who have lavished Martinez with accolades. Until now, none took the time to do the real investigative reporting which Mr. Libit did. I have noted with interest that neither the Huffington Post, Talking Points Memo, or even Politico have picked up on it. It may be a little early, but each of those outlets will eventually reprint it in some fashion. But what will the pro-Martinez ABQ Journal do with it--ignore it and pretend it doesn't exist? The only major NM outlet to have referenced it so far is the Santa Fe New Mexican.

The big question, of course, is will the leadership of the NM Democratic Party and their candidates use it against her in the campaigns? Are there enough combined backbones among the whole lot to use it? While there have been a few responses from some who would like to have her job, there is still no significant response from the party chairman. I am beginning to think that the state chair, Mr. Bregman, is MIA, or doesn't read anything.

As for what the Governor will do, my prediction is that she will do nothing about her political operative. She will probably be highly impressed that she is perceived to have nabbed the next Karl Rove and consider it a brilliant move that she chose him to advise her. Like she has done in the past, she will blow it off as just another liberal hate piece because she needs him. 

Regardless of the reactions, pro and con, there is one thing I believe we can count on, and that is if she is still occupying the Governor's mansion and Jay McCleskey is still around in 2016, her name is not likely to be on the short VP list of whomever the Republican nominee is for President. The debacle of the McCain selection for his running mate will not be forgotten, and the reference to Governor Martinez being Sarah Palin with a Hispanic name would surface again very quickly.

Keen insights, Kathryn. Thanks for them.

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