Wednesday, November 11, 2015

More Angles On The Big Story: Will GOP Cash Take Hit As McCleskey Faces Feds? What About John Sanchez? And Who Is "Anyone Else?" Plus: Idalia's Movidas 

Here's our 2015 Veterans Day blog for you. .

State Democrats are hoping the criminal investigation of Gov. Martinez's top political adviser Jay McCleskey will dry up money for the GOP '16 campaign to take over the state Senate and keep the state House under their wing.

The question is whether donors will want to give to a PAC run by McCleskey who may face indictment from a federal grand jury for his past handling of Martinez's campaign money. Do they indirectly want to fund his legal defense through his consulting fees for the PACS that he heads and one of which is apparently part of the federal probe?

Do the big oil boys and others want their names to be publicly listed and associated with such PACS?

Millions is expected to be spent by both sides in the legislative battle--if it can be raised.


Martinez said in her three minute meeting with reporters Monday that she speaks with political adviser McCleskey "every day." About what? There is no political campaign currently underway and she is not able to seek re-election. Well, it's an open secret that McCleskey, aka the "Shadow Governor," is the most influential and closest adviser on all things political and policy in this administration. Yet he is a private citizen unaccountable to the scrutiny of the public--but not the Federal grand jury.


Berry & McCleskey
McCleskey and Lt. Gov. John Sanchez are no friends but if McCleskey's legal woes impact the popularity of the Martinez administration it could spell trouble for Sanchez if--as expected--he seeks the 2018 GOP Guv nomination. In 2010, Lt. Gov. Diane Denish was unable to succeed Bill Richardson when his popularity plummeted in the wake of a federal investigation and Martinez used it against her.

There could also be trouble for ABQ Mayor Richard Berry, another possible '18 Guv contender. His very close association with McCleskey--who ran both of his mayoral campaigns--could be the kiss of death.

All in all this week has made the Democratic nomination for governor more valuable. But there's a long, long way to go. What it means for the '16 cycle and the battle for the Legislature is a more immediate concern.


A reader writes of news coverage of the potential scandal:

I could not help but be amused at the headline to the ABQ Journal piece on the McCleskey investigation to which you linked: "Investigation of Martinez adviser continues" -- the casual reader will presume that the paper is following up on an old news story, not that this is a breaking news piece. Those folks at the paper are pretty damn clever.

The McCleskey story broke early Friday evening but the Journal did not publish anything until Tuesday.

We noted that in its Tuesday piece the paper threw some cold water on the notion that alleged bid rigging for the racino lease at the Downs at ABQ did not appear to be a big part of the federal probe. But one of our Alligators questioned the authority of the paper's source and still expects what's become known as the down and dirty Downs deal to surface. Someone will be shown to be right in the days ahead.


Who is "anyone else?"

In defending McCleskey the Governor said "I'm confident that neither Jay nor anyone else has done anything wrong." That has the tongues wagging and makes for the latest guessing game in La Politica. If McCleskey is indicted it's highly likely others will be to. Maybe someone should start a contest. The contestant who gets the most indicted names right wins an all expense paid alligator hunting trip to Louisiana.


How the heck did Dem Idalia Lechuga-Tena end up getting appointed by the Bernalillo County Commission Tuesday to fill the vacant House seat of Dem Stephanie Maez who resigned when her son got unto deep legal trouble?

Didn't we have to order punishment of 20 lashes with a wet noodle to one of our Dem consultant Alligators because he said Idalia would be a possible Maez replacement, only to learn from ABQ Dem Senator Mimi Stewart that Idalia didn't even live in the SE ABQ House district. Well, put the wet noodle away. Our Gator gets off the hook as Idalia takes a back door entrance into the state House.

She tells us she recently moved into the district so she could be eligible for the seat. And it worked. But in an odd sort of way. Idalia is a Dem who has been active in a number of campaigns in recent years, but she was supported by the two GOP Commissioners and one Dem--Art De La Cruz--to take the prize in a 3 to 2 vote. That has more progressive Dems tearing their hair out, and when Idalia seeks the Dem nomination in the June '16 primary she could face some opposition. Still, she has ties to the area, having graduated from Highland High School. And there's more...

Idalia Lechuga-Tena, 32, was born in Mexico and is a naturalized citizen. But as a 20 year old she voted in two elections before she was a citizen. She says she canceled her registration when she learned she was not eligible. She apologizes for the error and the commission never brought it up.

Our saga ends with our Alligator escaping the 20 lashes with the wet noodle because Idalia made an honest man of him by moving into the district. He is now again in the good graces of his fellow Gators. As for Senator Stewart, she had it right about the residency issue, but Idalia out foxed her and everyone else with a double movida--moving into the district and getting two R's to vote for a Dem. Only in La Politica!

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