Thursday, April 24, 2014

Guv Race Gets Personal: Webber Camp Lashes Back At McCleskey And Company; Labels Guv's Top Aides "Misogynistic Thugs," Plus: Susana's Hispanic TV Play, And: Latest Campaign Finance Reports And APD Crisis News 

McCleskey, Gardner & Kennicott 
After enduring withering attacks on his character and credibility from Gov. Martinez's political operatives, the seemingly mild-mannered Alan Webber campaign let out a growl Wednesday that turned the heads of La Politica.

The Dem Guv contender's campaign unloaded both barrels on Jay McCleskey--aka "The "Shadow Governor"--as well as two other close Martinez aides--and  labeled them "a fraternity of misogynistic thugs."

Webber's campaign manager Neri Holguin ripped a page directly from the McCleskey playbook and got personal, listing McCleskey's various indiscretions--legal and otherwise--including an alleged case of domestic violence. Webber's camp also targeted the indiscretions of Martinez Chief of Staff Keith Gardner and Matt Kennicott, the Martinez aide who called former House Speaker Ben Lujan "a fucking retard" in tapes from 2010 that were recently leaked to Mother Jones Magazine.

Webber's email fundraiser was titled: "Meet Susana Martinez’s most inner circle: a group of misogynistic, abusive men with a criminal past." It said of McCleskey:

Alleged battery of his girlfriend’s roommate, Guilty of DWI, Guilty of leaving scene of an accident; Charged with criminal damage to property.

On Keith Gardner, Chief of Staff:

Alleged battery against a young woman; Viciously attacked the President Pro-Tem of the New Mexico Senate; Violated public records law by using private account instead of state email account; Used his position to get high-paying government jobs for his friends and family

On Matt Kennicott: 2010 Deputy Campaign Manager:

Insulted and attacked the late Ben Lujan, revered Speaker of the House; Mocked and trivialized the Commission on the Status of Women

McCleskey has been catapulted into the national spotlight via lengthy pieces in the National Journal,  Mother Jones and Real Clear Politics. The in-depth pieces point out his enormous and highly controversial influence with Martinez and the hard ball tactics he has used against critics in both parties. Even influential Republicans have called on Martinez to get rid of him or rein him in,

The Webber attack was Jay getting a taste of some of the very personal medicine that he has dished out over the years. One news reporter called the charges Webber listed about  McCleskey as "old." That's true, but they are new to the New Mexico public as none of them nor McCleskey's background have received very much media treatment.

The Guv's campaign said Webber's email hit was "unhinged" and that Webber is "an unapologetic extremist who is better-suited to run a hate-filled blog than serve as the state’s chief executive.”

But Democrats have been accused of cowering in fear of McCleskey, not wanting to become his next victim. Dem frustrations have been repeatedly voiced here and elsewhere that their party and their candidates have been doing nothing to deter Martinez and McCleskey. Meantime, the GOP  has built a formidable political machine in a Democratic state.

Webber apparently reached the breaking point when he was hammered for accepting a political donation from Mark Rudd, a longtime ABQ resident and retired CNM teacher who was associated in the 1960's with the radical group the Weather Underground. Rudd long ago apologized for his involvement with the group.

It was McCleskey and company who started the red meat phase of the campaign. Now Webber's camp has thrown some rare cuts back at them. Let's see where it goes. . . .


Governor Martinez hit a big pothole when those leaked audio tapes had Matt Kennicott refer to former House Speaker Ben Lujan as "a fucking retard." Now she is trying to fill in that hole with a new TV ad. In it Las Vegas Mayor Alfonso Ortiz and former Taos Mayor Darren Cordova both endorse the GOP Governor. The mayors are clearly identified as Democrats in the spot. It is aimed past the June primary in which the Guv is unopposed.

The endorsements are shrewd poltics and a blow to state Democrats who must peel away her support in the heavy Hispanic Democratic North.

Martinez has refused to apologize for the retard remark and others that were found offensive. That refusal could still ding her, but the Ortiz and Cordova endorsements send the message:  "Hey, Spanish North, if we aren't bothered by it, why should you be?"

A number of campaign watchers tell us they think the leaked remarks may have hurt Martinez in her polling and this spot is in direct response. Whether it is or not, this is the Guv's second English language TV spot of the cycle and seems the right move at the right time. Again, Martinez  shows that while turning the government over to be run by a political consultant  has been a very bad idea, it's a different story when it comes to her political campaigns.

None of the five Dem Guv candidates have been up with TV ads, but that will soon change. Insiders tell NM Politics with Joe Monahan that Lawrence Rael will go on the air May 1 with a one week TV buy. Rael and Alan Webber have both done small radio buys. Absentee voting for the June 3 primary begins May 6.


The GOP US Senate campaign of David Clements began on a high note when he surpassed expectations at the party's preprimary convention where he nabbed 47% of delegate support compared to front-runner Allen Weh's 53%. But it's been an uphill climb from there for the 34 year old Las Cruces attorney. His campaign has been plagued by plagiarism charges and he did not capitalize on his preprimary showing financially. His report has not been posted by the FEC yet, but he tells us he raised about $70,000 in the latest reporting period, compared to Weh's $414,000--including a $140,000 personal loan. Weh had $206,000 in cash on had when the reporting period ended earlier this month. Clements has not said how much cash he has.

Weh's camp says Clements did not file his FEC report on time, but Clements said he has a tracking record that shows he has and that the Senate Clerk was slow in posting his report to the FEC site.

Clements, 34, has positioned himself as the libertarian Republican and fresh face and still hopes to attract national political support. He needs to.

Meanwhile, the Senate race remains Dem Senator Tom Udall's to lose. He reports a big fund-raising haul of $1,010,599 in the first quarter and finished with $3,117,813 cash on hand.


Dem US Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham remains heavily favored to retain her ABQ congressional seat this fall. She reports raising $234,985 in the first quarter with cash on hand of $842,000.

The Republicans vying for the right to take on Grisham--who is unopposed for the Dem nod--are Mike Frese and Richard Priem.

Frese had only $27,000 in cash at the end of the quarter. Priem had $41,000.

Down South, Dem Rocky Lara has been having a go of it, but GOP incumbent US Rep. Steve Pearce has answered, Pearce now has $1.380 million cash on hand compared to Lara's $444,000. Neither have primary opposition.


It was a universally scorned news conference by APD Chief Gorden Eden Wednesday. He appeared befuddled and uninformed as he repeatedly declared, "I don't know" when queried about key issues in this week's fatal police shooting of 19 year old Mary Hawkes. Eden was crucified on the evening newscasts, raising questions about the new chief's future. Our Alligators were out in force to assess this shooting and Eden's response. Here's a report:

What can you say about the Eden press conference? “I don’t know” seems to be the right answer.

Chief Eden said “I don’t know” so many times it made me wonder what he does know. Do we really believe he doesn’t know the answers? If he didn’t know then he is admitting to not doing his job as chief. If he knew, he should have truthfully answered the question or said he can’t answer because it is under investigation. To trust your police the citizens must trust their chief. So far Eden has not done much to gain the trust of the community. Is it now too late for him?

And what about the Command Staff in the room? Didn’t any of them know the answers to some questions? If not, why not? The command staff was suspiciously quiet during the news conference. Are they letting Eden sink, or are they all quiet for a reason? The community isn’t trusting the cops at the top and therefore are not trusting the department as a whole.

 Eden couldn’t name the maker of the lapel cameras but we all know former APD Chief Ray Schultz knows, because he went to work for Taser immediately after he retired from the city. Most lapel camera video sucks. The Boyd shooting was good video, but it was helmet mounted, not lapel. The entire Taser contract should be investigated for pay-to-play. Ray signs the $1,950,000 for Taser lapel camera and then retires and goes to work for Taser. Doesn’t anyone in the check and balance system find this suspicious? Shouldn’t the DOJ look into this? Federal grant money may have been used. And what about the City Council and the NM AG? Shouldn’t they investigate for violation of City Ordinance (Conflict of Interest)? Hell, District Attorney Kari Brandenburg could even repair her credibility by investigating.

It seems the only people that the DOJ and others want to target are the officer in the street. Their silence on Tasergate speaks volumes that the guys at the top are not going to be held accountable, but the guy at the bottom will be slammed. Equal justice for all? Not for Albuquerque Police.


A potentially devastating report for Schultz and the Berry administration came from KRQE-TV news on Taser and possible pay to play. We say potentially because as the Alligator above wonders who will investigate and bring charges if necessary. The report:

Former APD Chief Ray Schultz helped make Albuquerque one of Taser’s biggest clients before he retired. Now he’s on Taser’s payroll.

“I actually started after I retired so I started talking in October,” Schultz told KRQE News 13 in a February interview. “After I retired, they asked if I’d be willing to come and share some of our experiences so I agreed to do that.”

Emails obtained by News 13 show his speaking gig, and a multi-million dollar city contract with Taser International signed in September, were in the works long before that. A timeline of the events leading to Schultz’s retirement as Chief of APD shows a correlation with the events leading to the city signing off on a nearly $2 million, 5-year contract for Taser Axon Flex cameras, online storage and accessories.

And what about the newspaper's investigative reporters. Will they finally join the hunt?

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

E-mail your news and comments. (jmonahan@ix.netcom.com)

Interested in reaching New Mexico's most informed audience? Advertise here.      

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2014. Not for reproduction without permission of the author
website design by limwebdesign