Monday, March 14, 2016

Reason Offered For Feds Dropping McCleskey Probe As New Details Emerge, Plus: Guv's UNM Power Grab Grabs The Spotlight, And State Dem Convention Cools The Bern  

Martinez inaugural (Journal)
So why did that lengthy federal grand jury investigation into possible campaign finance violations and other matters involving Gov. Martinez political guru Jay McCleskey end with no indictments? Some details emerged over the weekend:

(Two witnesses) said an FBI special agent and an attorney with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Mexico informed them that the decision not to seek an indictment came down (in Washington) from Deputy U.S. Attorney General Sally Yates on a belief that federal prosecutors would not prevail at trial.

A main focus of the federal probe was the nearly $1 million raised by Gov. Martinez's 2010 inaugural committee. Former Martinez fund-raiser and committee executive director Andrea Goff says she told investigators she could account for how $600,000 of the money was spent but was unsure where the remainder of the cash went. From the news report:

. . . More than $130,000. . . went to companies connected to McCleskey. The documents also provide strong evidence that, despite the committee’s promises to the contrary, some of the inaugural money was used for fundraising for Martinez’s 2014 re-election campaign. The committee had promised to donate all unspent money to charity.
Deputy AG Yates

Said McCleskey in a email about the inaugural committee giving a full accounting of all expenses:

Going to try not to release expenses unless we get waterboarded into it.

Unless we get waterboarded? Really? Uh, you think there might be something up with that, Sally?

And just when is the Martinez administration--the self-proclaimed "most transparent administration in state history" going to give that full accounting of those inaugural expenses as promised? And when is the ABQ Journal going to stop getting its ass kicked on these stories by the upstart New Mexican? Well, the answer seems to be when it' a cold day in Hell.

So we are led to believe the FBI and the US Attorney just couldn't figure out the story and make a case of it so decided to do nothing about it, even though what came down seems to be staring us in the face. Or maybe they did figure it out but Sally and the higher ups at Justice didn't have the stomach for it. Considering the amount of time that went into this fruitless probe, some of the players can't be happy campers.


Marked Man Roth
The Governor's office trying to run the University of New Mexico? Well, there won't be  jaws dropping over the Fourth Floor's latest maneuvering to take a chunk of power out of UNM and put it into the political sphere. After all, Governor Richardson treated the campus as his personal stomping ground, planting operatives and telling UNM Regents how things were going to be.

Now comes Susana and Company with a plan to have the UNM Regents--mostly appointed by her--to take over the sprawling UNM medical complex by eviscerating the Health Sciences Center board and turning its power over to a three member subcommittee of the Regents. That would put Health Sciences Chancellor Dr. Paul Roth--no friend of the Guv's Machine and now a marked man--in his place and give the Governor a gateway into UNM Hospital, the medical school, the school of nursing and the cancer center.

Hey, sports fans, that's a lot of money, power and jobs.

Conspiracy theorists also say the power grab is motivated in part by Lovelace Health Systems opposition to building a new UNM hospital which Roth has been pushing. Lovelace was a big campaign contributor to Martinez.

Watching all this from the shadows is David Harris, a longtime political operative of legendary status who wears the title of UNM executive vice-president but is actually UNM's " Shadow President." He makes sure whoever is Governor gets their way. UNM President Bob Frank, like his predecessor, is along for the well-paid ride.

The Regents meet today and will perhaps formalize the power grab, which true to form was popped on the public Friday afternoon. If they do, you can imagine the champagne corks popping on on the Fourth and Fifth Floors and accompanied by hearty cries of: "Federal grand jury? We don't need no stinkin' grand jury!"


We heard from a number of upset Dems over the weekend as a planned presidential straw preference poll between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton was cancelled at the Dem Party's pre-primary convention Saturday. Veteran politico and Bernie Sanders supporter Steve Cabiedes was one of them:

Unfortunately, NM Democratic Party Chairwoman Haaland announced towards the beginning of proceedings that the straw poll had been cancelled due to "integrity of the vote" concerns. This brought boos from the majority of the delegates, who also were Bernie supporters. It was clear that Sanders would win if the vote was cast and many doubt that the "integrity" issue stands with a purely non-binding vote. Chants of "Straw poll! Straw Poll!" were made at several points during the event. The decision to cancel was made the night before, but Deb has given several different accounts of who and how this was done. Additionally, the vanilla platform document engineered by the Party was voted down by 3 votes. It needed a 60% vote and the Sanders faction was able to stop that.

Cabiedes is aso a longtime contributor to our KANW 89.1 FM Election Night coverage.

A Patry spokesman tells us the straw vote was not cancelled to spare Clinton embarrassment should she lose, but because they received numerous complaints that the poll was not given enough advanced publicity to give the campaigns time to organize. The spokesman also said that there were also concerns that non delegates might be able to cast ballots and that the party did not have enough staff to supervise the vote.


BernCo Dem District Attorney candidate Ed Perea wrote on the blog last week that he became lawyer in 2005. Actually, it was 2009.  Perea said he meant to say that he left APD in 2005 to begin his legal education and become an attorney. Supporters of Perea's June primary opponent, Raul Torrez, were quick to point out the error as the DA's race  begins to heat up.

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