Tuesday, November 17, 2015

New Fave Emerges For SOS Post, McCleskey's Legal Woes Hit Campaign Trail And More Thoughts On The Paris Massacre  

Amy Bailey
Republican Alligators say a favorite is emerging to win appointment as Secretary of State by Gov. Martinez. They say Amy Bailey, former ABQ City Clerk under ABQ GOP Mayor Berry and now the general counsel for the Secretary of State's office, has been lobbying hard for the job and that the Governor seems to be leaning her way.

The office has been vacant since last month's resignation of GOP Secretary of State Dianna Duran who was charged with campaign finance irregularities. She has entered a plea bargain and awaits sentencing.

If Bailey does get the appointment in the days ahead she will immediately have to hit the campaign trail if she is going to keep it. The position will be on the ballot next November. The winner will fill the unexpired portion of Duran's term which runs through 2018.

Bailey, a UNM School of Law grad, would be unlikely to draw a GOP primary challenger but Dem Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver, who lost to Duran  in 2014, is again the probable Dem nominee and has been running hard for months.

Another name floating for the appointment is that of former ABQ GOP State Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones but insider R's are not seeing it, pointing out that Arnold-Jones has been a long-standing rival of the Guv's political machine and that is weighing against her.


The legal woes of Gov. Martinez top political adviser Jay McCleskey have hit the campaign trail. Liz Thomson, seeking the Dem nod for the ABQ NE Heights state House seat held by Republican Rep. Conrad James, fired off this campaign missive:

While my Republican opponent raises big out-of-state money to give to the likes of Jay McCleskey to run negative ads against me, (if you've seen the news lately, you know the problem with that) I am proud to have the support of everyday New Mexicans like you. With your continued support, I know we can take back this seat and, along with it, the House.

Rep. James has been a client of McCleskey's. Will he and other GOP politicos up for re-election next year back off from their association with McCleskey because of the federal criminal investigation of him?


Meanwhile, the McCleskey R's pushed back against state Dems, saying the "ghost firms" or fictitious business names set up by McCleskey and reported on by the Santa Fe New Mexican, are completely legal. The Dem Party issued a news release following the report calling them illegal.

Veteran journalist Peter St. Cyr, recognized for his work on open government issues, says the fictitious business names are not illegal but the activity of those used by McCleskey raises important questions, including how they may block the ability of journalists and the public to follow the trail of campaign money, whether there is illegal coordination between PACS and campaigns and whether publicly financed campaigns are exceeding their spending limits.  

McCleskey operatives--led by former GOP state Senator Rod Adair--are impugning the  integrity of two of the three New Mexican reporters who worked on the story--Justin Horwath and Milan Simonich--their usual tactic in trying to corral the media into their way of seeing things. They are not attacking the third reporter--Steve Terrell--nor are they attacking the FBI or US attorneys office as the state awaits word on whether McCleskey and others will be indicted as a result of the confirmed federal grand jury investigation.

There are also no attacks by the McCleskey operatives on the ABQ Journal which has run only one report on the McCleskey investigation since it became public knowledge well over a week ago.

This McCleskey story appears to have tentacles all over the place. We won't say it's akin to Watergate, but it is potentially big. Back in '73 the Washington Post made a couple of major mistakes in tracking that complicated story, but it did not shake its conviction to follow the money. The paper turned out to be very right.


And we get this next one from our Alligators. While McCleskey has been receiving little vocal support as news of the grand jury probe of his political activity spreads far and wide, there was one voice recently raised in his defense. Lawyer/lobbyist Mickey Barnett, who has served as a personal lawyer for McCleskey, told a gathering of the conservative Rio Grande Foundation that McCleskey's legal woes will blow over in a matter of months and there's nothing to worry about.

Well, not that the Rio Grande Foundation attendees are worrying about McCleskey.

Barnett has been tied to McCleskey's hip for years and is a beneficiary of that political connection. It's no surprise to see him try to damp down the speculation over McCleskey. Hey, we haven't heard anything from that other Martinez Machine lawyer, Pat Rogers. If we do, you know this party is really going to get crazy.


Reader Peter Katel writes of our Monday blog in which we asked Senators Udall and Heinrich to reconsider their opposition to placing 50 special forces troops into Syria:

An argument in favor of Obama’s Special Forces deployment doesn’t need the unsupported analytical leap into calling the Paris massacre an “existential threat.” The attacks are not an abstract matter for me. One cousin lives within easy rifle range of one of the massacre sites. Another would have been near the soccer stadium but for a change of plans.

But horrific as it was, this terrorist strike did not threaten the foundations of European or Western civilization - any more than the Madrid train bombings and London transport bombings of 2004 and 2005, which between them killed slightly more people than died in Paris.

The ISIS terrorists like to think of themselves in grandiose terms. But there is no reason to share their delusion. My father served in the French Army during the 1940 German invasion of France. Now that was an existential threat.

Meantime, Gov. Martinez has joined many other GOP governors by doing this:

Gov. Martinez says she’s opposed to the Obama administration’s plan to accept any more Syrian refugees until there’s a clear plan in place to properly vet and place them.

Did Martinez have any choice in light of the Paris attacks? Are the Dems falling behind the curve here?

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