Wednesday, November 10, 2021

New Majority Leader Martinez Staffs Up, Plus: Ex-Guv Martinez Pulled Into Defamation Lawsuit Against Consultant McCleskey 

Rep. Martinez
New state House Majority Floor Leader Javier Martinez has hired Alicia Manzano, a former top aide to ABQ Mayor Tim Keller, as his Chief of Staff as he prepares for his first stint as leader at the December redistricting and 2022 legislative sessions. That's pretty heady stuff for a fellow who grew up in an El Paso Barrio as the son of Mexican immigrants and just steps from the border. 

Martinez, about 40, is an attorney but not in private practice, serving as Executive Director of the Partnership For Community Action," a community-based organization that works to build healthy communities."

Previous majority leader Sheryl Williams Stapleton was forced to quit after being accused of embezzling nearly $1 million from APS where she was employed.

Manzano, an ABQ native with a Masters in Public Administration from UNM, has served as Keller's dorector of communications as well as his liaison for strategic partnerships.

While there' been some buzz about Martinez eventually ascending to the Speaker's chair current Speaker Brian Egolf has signaled that he will seek another term from the House Dem Caucus following the 2022 election. He has served in the post since 2017.


Scott Chandler (Deming Headlight)
A closely watched lawsuit by La Politica insiders continues to bubble up. 

The latest is a request by Scott Chandler, a former GOP state House candidate who is suing longtime GOP consultant Jay McCleskey for defamation and seeking $1 million in damages, to add former Gov. Susan Martinez's name to the lawsuit:

Due to Jay McCleskey's sworn testimony in a lateral lawsuit which brings to light Governor Susanna Martinez's intimate involvement concerning the defamatory fliers used in the 2016 State Representative District 32 primary, we found it necessary to name her in this amended complaint. 

Full complaint here.

The case centers on a flyer attacking Chandler that was sent by the Advance Now NM PAC run by McCleskey. Chandler ran a ranch for at risk youth and the hit piece asked: 

How did a business accused of child abuse and torture avoid government oversight?

But Chandler and the ranch were exonerated from any wrongdoing despite attacks from Martinez and McCleskey. Chandler has previously won lawsuit settlements from the state for the state's public attacks on him so the defamation suit is no shot in the dark.

The Advance Now PAC was active in pursuing legislative Republicans who were not supportive of Martinez.

McCleskey lost a key decision in the case in December of last year when a Luna County District Court Judge ruled the case would proceed and shot down down a defense motion to dismiss.

McCleskey and Martinez
In the "lateral lawsuit" mentioned in the motion to include ex-Gov. Martinez in the defamation lawsuit, McCleskey is suing his insurance company for refusing to pay for his defense. The company argues that there is a policy for McCleskey's media firm but not the political action committee that he ran with the advice and assistance of the Governor.

It's quite the legal mess for McCleskey, known for his slash and burn attack ads, as he struggles to get back in the winner's circle. In November he lost the high profile ABQ mayoral race when his client, Democrat Manny Gonzales, tanked. In 2020 he managed Mark Ronchetti's media for the US senate race but again came up short. 

Now Ronchetti is again employing McCleskey in his high dollar race for Governor, dollars the controversial consultant can surely use as he fights for his political life against a rancher whose spurs are digging into him deeply. 

By the way, the attorney for Chandler is none other than Pete Domenici, Jr. who lost the 2010 GOP Guv nomination to Martinez. 

Well, Jay and Mark, good luck with all of that. . . or something. 

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