Tuesday, November 10, 2015

A Break In The Dam: Martinez Startles State As She Confirms Feds Probe of McCleskey; Says She Was Interviewed By FBI: Calls Allegations "Nothing New" But Leaves Herself Some Wiggle Room; Is "Confident" McCleskey Did Nothing Wrong 

Gov. Martinez startled the state Monday as she revealed she was subjected to an FBI interview concerning the activity of Jay McCleskey, her chief political adviser who is well-known as the most powerful presence in her administration.

She also defended McCleskey but left herself some wiggle room:

I'm confident that neither Jay nor anyone else has done anything wrong.

Being "confident" is not the equivalent of being "certain" or "sure." If things go south, she can start walking back her defense.

The Santa Fe New Mexican's coverage is here and ABQ Journal coverage is here (finally).

The New Mexican, leading on this story out of the gate, says one aspect of the probe focuses on payments to McCleskey's media company from the Susana PAC. The paper previously reported another aspect centers on tax return audits that may have been done as retaliation against Martinez critics.

(Martinez spokesman Chris Sanchez continues to insist because he was recently audited it proves there were no illegal political audits authorized. Chris, we highly recommend to you a class in Logic 101 at St. John's in Santa Fe. One has nothing to do with the other.)

Journal veteran Mike Gallagher--known for having solid federal sources--throws some cold water on the theory that the racino lease awarded to the Downs at ABQ is surfacing in the current Fed investigation and says the bulk of it focuses on the 2010 inauguration spending and the money McCleskey received for that production. Did McCleskey perform services he billed for? Gallagher does not completely rule out the Downs as having a role in this investigation. (Welcome to the party, Mike. We've been waiting for you).

That reference to "anyone else" Martinez made is to other administration figures who may end up facing criminal charges. She appears to be anticipating indictments.

Martinez did her best to downplay the revelation that a sitting governor had been interviewed about a criminal investigation involving her closest political associate, saying it was just part of "the process." But there was no hiding the tension on her face nor the high pitch of her voice during a three minute session with reporters following a jobs announcement.

In a statement to the AP in the morning and at her brief media gaggle in ABQ in late afternoon, the Governor seemed to be preparing the public for more shocks to come and she started lashing out at potential witnesses:

I'm telling you, this is nothing new. It's the same old people who have an ax to grind, and when you have an ax to grind and nothing new, you keep repeating yourself hoping that somebody's going to listen. They haven't yet; nothing has ever come of this.

"They haven't yet." That's the prayer the Governor will be saying until there is clarity on where all this is going.

Nothing may have come of "this" before but there is a new US attorney at the helm.

And then there's that new allegation that the Martinez administration audited tax returns as retaliation against its critics. And by the way, "those same old people" are all fellow Republicans of Martinez.

The Governor also pointed the finger at one of her favorite villains--Jamie Estrada--who was jailed for stealing gubernatorial emails--as a key player in trying to bring down McCleskey:

These are claims that have gone back two years to the Jamie Estrada case. Same people, same thing – it's disappointing they keep doing it over and over again.

The Governor must now hang onto the hope that there are no indictments and that the storm will pass. More immediately, we are watching for any signs of second thoughts by the Republican Governors Association to have Martinez head the national group. They meet on that this month. Do they want to have a political time bomb go off in the middle of the presidential election?


We saw both the hand of McCleskey and Martinez's lawyers in the statement she issued to the AP. The reserved refrain that she was "confident" McCleskey and "anyone else" had done nothing wrong was lawyerly, giving her the room to back down. Then came the McCleskey chest beating:

And if they can't beat him, they're just going to smear him.

Of course, McCleskey is the master of the smear, which is why so little support for him is being exhibited as he faces what could be the defining days of the rest of his days.


Here's audio of that three minute gubernatorial gaggle with reporters from the NM Political Report:


What if former Gov. Richardson admitted to being interviewed as part of a criminal investigation of his most trusted and closest advisor? Would the media make a bigger deal of it than they have with Martinez. This Dem thinks so:

Expressing confidence that no one has done wrong is not a total and complete denial of any wrongdoing you would expect coming from this self-righteous Governor who was first elected trashing Bill Richardson for "pay to play." Not even Richardson was known to be interviewed by the FBI! Once again, our local media fall short by not asking Martinez exactly what did the FBI questioned her about, if she was questioned about donations and the Dirty Downs Deal. No doubt the interview with Martinez was recorded or a statement drafted or an FBI report made which the news media should be demanding be released.

That FBI interview transcript of Martinez would be a blog best seller, for sure.

Another reader writes:

No one deserves a giant therapeutic dose of her own prosecutorial medicine more than our gov. I hope the applicable statute of limitations doesn't prevent the feds from including the gov's wanton illegal use of NCIC against political foes into any indictments that may issue.

Your voice in the forest exposing the reality of The Martinez (McCleskey) Machine and its true effects on NM is and has been a true and heroic public service, especially in a political atmosphere featuring NM Dems hiding and quaking in the bushes while the Machine rolled over NM  with little or no opposition (and everyone hoping to just placate them).

And here's a reader with a bright side of the down side:

Why don't we just reframe the absence of legislator ethics laws and political corruption in New Mexico as a good thing about our banana republic and why visitors can get a taste of "old Mexico" without the inconvenience of leaving the USA. The New Mexico Axis of Evil; Martinez, Skandera, McCleskey and Duran should be put on a billboard in Times Square by the New Mexico Economic Development Department. The theme could be that New Mexico public officials can be bought for less!

Well, we do need economic development around here.


Some good stuff from a reader now on the groups charged with promoting business in the state and ABQ:

Joe, Since ABQ Chamber of Commerce head Terri Cole recently mentioned several “opportunities” to restructure the Chamber since the start of the recession, I wondered whether the Chamber’s board thought to restructure her compensation during that time period--at the same time so many small businesses have had the “opportunity” to restructure, or worse, shut their doors. IRS records for the last two years are not yet available, but between 2011 and 2013 Cole’s compensation went from $167,000 to $177,000 with benefits. It’s not clear whether she still gets this benefit, but one year she had the use of a rental car from Don Chalmer’s Ford at a value of $8,616.

And how are the leaders of other local economic groups doing? Not too shabby.

Gary Tonjes, president of Albuquerque Economic Development, Inc., $221,000 including benefits. Bob Murphy, executive director of the Economic Forum makes $120,000. Alex Romero, president of the Hispano Chamber of Commerce, makes $110,000; Former president of the Association of Commerce & Industry, Beverlee McClure, made $169,000 in the last IRS report.'

Hey, that's good stuff but how are we going to get any advertisers around here after letting you stick the needle in the biz chiefs? Well, maybe some of those Jay scared off will find their way back. . .

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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