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Thursday, March 17, 2016

Witnesses In McCleskey Case Question Justice Dept. Decision Nixing Indictment of Martinez Adviser; Letters Ask US Attorney For Explanation; They Say FBI Told Them Evidence Was "Strong"; The Complete Letters And Reaction 

Cecilia Martinez
Witnesses in the federal investigation of campaign finance practices employed by powerful Martinez political adviser Jay McCleskey and other matters involving the administration are going public with their dismay over the Justice Department decision not to indict the controversial consultant and are asking for an explanation.

In letters written to NM US Attorney Damon Martinez on March 9 and that we've obtained, former Gov. Martinez fund-raisers Cecilia Martinez of Virginia and Andrea Goff of Hobbs paint a picture of US Attorney Martinez and local FBI agents wanting the federal grand jury probing the case to indict McCleskey, but getting vetoed by Justice Department Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates in DC.

(Full Ceclila Martinez letter here. Full Andrea Goff letter here.)

This news article goes long and deep on the allegations of financial impropriety surrounding Gov. Martinez's 2010 inaugural committee that raised $1 million and was investigated by the FBI. Other news accounts have reported that the grand jury was also looking into possibly politically motivated tax audits by the administration and illegal use of the NCIC law enforcement data base by the Martinez campaign in 2010.

Cecilia Martinez worked on Gov. Martinez's 2010 inaugural committee. The New Mexicans says she also worked on the 2014 re-election campaign, but a Martinez political operative says she was fired before that campaign. Here's an excerpt of her letter to US Attorney Martinez that was copied to members of Congress, local FBI agents and Assistant NM US Attorney Tera Neda. (There are a lot of Martinez's in this drama. None are related.)

Dear Mr. Martinez,

On Friday February 19, 2016, I received a call from an FBI agent regarding the investigation into Mr. Jason “Jay” McCleskey. . .The agent told me that Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates declined your office's request to indict Mr. McCleskey and that the matter was closed. I was told by the agent that despite the strong evidence against Mr. McCleskey (which I understand was presented to and approved by FBI Director James Comey in late 2015), Ms. Yates did not believe the government would succeed at trial and therefore closed the multi-year investigation.

I am writing to seek your help in finding the truth about the following:

(1) What will your office do to protect me and the other witnesses who face retaliation, intimidation, and retribution for cooperating with your investigation?

(2) Why was this white-collar criminal investigation elevated within the U.S. Department of Justice to multiple levels of review that are typically reserved for capital punishment cases or cases against elected officials?

(3) On what basis did Ms. Yates, on February 18, 2016, instruct your office not to indict Mr. McCleskey?

(4) Why wasn’t the grand jury that was seated on this case since September 2015 afforded the opportunity to make a decision on an indictment, as opposed to Ms. Yates, who is a political appointee in the Department of Justice in Washington DC?

(5) I was told by FBI agents that they had strong forensic evidence (including bank records), so how did a case with such strong evidence -- that was backed by your office and had a grand jury seated for over five months -- get taken over by the Deputy Attorney General and then it abruptly disappeared?

. . . For the last 11 months, I have been regularly contacted by FBI agents with follow-up questions and I have respectfully cooperated fully, honestly, thoroughly, and in a timely manner. . .

As you stated during our phone conversation on February 24, 2016, you are well aware of the professional and personal retribution I have endured as a cooperating witness for the Government in the McCleskey investigation. You, your office, and the FBI office in Albuquerque are aware of the harassment my clients have encountered (including pressure to fire me); you are aware that donors were told not to contribute to my clients; you are aware that potential clients I was interviewing with were instructed not to hire me. . .It is my sincere hope that. . . your office can provide the truth in this matter and put an end to the bullying, intimidation and harassment of the witnesses in this case.

GOFF AND RETRIBUTION

Andrea Goff
Before we get to the administration's side of the story, here is an excerpt of the letter sent to US Attorney Martinez by Andrea Goff:

It is my understanding that the Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates has decided not to go forward with pursuing an indictment of Jay McCleskey. I further understand that the FBI agents from New Mexico flew to Washington D.C. and met with  FBI Director James Comey who reviewed the case and gave the pursuit of an indictment his full backing.

During the course of the above referenced investigation the FBI also has gathered evidence supporting probable attempted retribution by the McCleskeys against individuals who responded to the FBI's requests for information, that is, against potential witnesses. 

In my case. . .2 clients that I work for received calls expressing that I should be fired –"cut from the herd" – for my participation and cooperation with the investigation.  Naturally, under these threatening circumstances the potential witnesses were concerned when they learned that a decision had been made not to pursue an indictment. Several of them sought to learn where the decision not to prosecute had been made, and why?. . .

If it is true that the Justice Department in Washington made the decision not to prosecute while your office and the FBI favored prosecution, this is simply deja vu for New Mexico. This situation is very disheartening to many of us that believe so strongly that our justice system should be free of politics and strictly about the evidence gathered and testimony in a case.

That's  brass knuckles stuff from two women who were once the closest of allies of Gov Martinez and McCleskey.

McCleskey was asked by the New Mexican for comment on Goff's allegations surrounding the use of inaugural funds but he nor his lawyer responded. McCleskey does not field inquires from this blog so we did not ask him for a comment on the letters or charges of bullying and intimidation. If we receive one, we will run it.

The US Attorney's office confirmed to me in a phone interview that the Goff and Martinez letters had been received by the US Attorney but per their standard practice, they would not comment further on the investigation.

A source close to the federal investigation told me they expect some kind of response to the Goff-Martinez letters, either from the US Attorney here or from the Justice Department.

Governor Martinez's office does not respond to inquires from this website. However, the office did issue a statement to the newspaper regarding Goff's allegations:

You can reprint Andrea Goff’s out-of-context garbage all you want, but she has proven to be a liar and a fraud who will desperately say anything to smear her political adversaries. . .The fact that she is now running to the media after her latest false attacks were completely invalidated by the documented truth underscores what we have been saying all along--this was nothing more than disgruntled hacks trying to score cheap political points at taxpayer expense.

Goff responded:

This isn’t about adolescent name calling it’s about bringing out the facts and documents that have triggered a 2 year long FBI investigation.

We asked one of our Legal Beagles why Goff and Cecilia Martinez are going public with their narrative of how the McCleskey case ended. He said:

There is really only one good reason--they hope to have the US Attorney reopen the McCleskey case before another federal grand jury. The letters reveal a normally very closed process and could put some pressure on the feds.

IT'S HAPPENING HERE

Monahan
This week saw NM Politics with Joe Monahan break the news that 25 percent of the state's population now receives food stamps, an historic high; we also broke the exclusive news you read today--the Martinez-Goff letters in the hot button McCleskey case, and yesterday we were the first media to come with the list of names considering a run for ABQ mayor in '17.

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