Beyond that, details are few. Specific allegations aren’t included in the article and no charges have been filed. The source quoted in The New Mexican’s article is a “prominent New Mexico Republican” who wasn’t named but “confirmed being interviewed in recent months by federal agents about funds from Martinez’s campaign, as well as money from her 2011 inauguration committee, going to the governor’s political consultant, Jay McCleskey.”
No law-enforcement sources — named or anonymous — were quoted about the investigation. Federal agencies generally don’t confirm, deny, or release details about ongoing probes.
So what does it all mean?
Politically, the article could have traction. It was being shared widely on social media. McCleskey, a cutthroat political operative, is hated by many Democrats and some Republicans.
On Facebook, some were celebrating the report.
“There is a God,” wrote Michael Clay Mills of Santa Fe.
“Finally!” wrote Emanuele Corso of Peñasco.
From a practical standpoint, there’s little new information in the article and its meaning isn’t clear. Claudia Anderson of Farmington asked on Facebook how outraged she should be on a scale of 1-10 “over allegations of an investigation made by an anonymous source, that the supposedly investigating agencies will neither confirm or deny, over incidents not fully explained.”
“So far this is registering 0 for me, and I’m a Democrat,” Anderson wrote.
“I hate when I agree with Claudia Anderson but, like she says, this is mostly speculation at this point,” wrote Jimmie Cisneros of Carlsbad.
We’ve known since 2013 that the FBI was asking questions about payments to McCleskey’s political firm and the controversial Downs at Albuquerque deal. We’ve also known for more than two years that Andrea Goff, former campaign finance director for Martinez, talked with the FBI.
“Due to intense speculation and misinformation, I feel it is appropriate to come forward and acknowledge that I complied with a request from the FBI to answer questions related to various activities including those related to the Downs Racino,” Goff announced in 2013.
It may be significant that the FBI has continued interviews in recent months. But the new article lacks details to put the interviews in context. People interviewed by the FBI can sometimes provide useful information to reporters by detailing the questions they were asked — but they usually can provide little or no context about investigators’ intent, direction or progress in an investigation.
In fact, The New Mexican wrote that it’s “unclear what potential violations federal agents are investigating.”
Craig Richard Bullock of Las Cruces pointed that out in questioning the source of The New Mexican’s article.
“Not only does the only information about the supposed investigation come from only one mysterious person, this person doesn’t even seem to know what or who the FBI is investigating outside of a few questions regarding campaign funds,” Bullock wrote on Facebook.
The New Mexican wasn’t the only news source to report on the developments Friday. Daniel Libit, whose 2013 profile of McCleskey claimed the political consultant could be Martinez’s downfall, tweeted Friday that multiple sources told him the investigation had “crested.”
Libit didn’t elaborate on whether any of the sources were in law enforcement or what he meant by “crested.”
NMPolitics.net profiled McCleskey in 2011, shortly after Martinez took office. McCleskey had recently left a political firm that did lobbying to start his own company. He was being criticized for a possible conflict because of his work to help Martinez win election in 2010. But because of that political work, McCleskey told NMPolitics.net that McCleskey Media would do no lobbying or government relations work.
“People contact us all the time looking for government relations help, and we don’t do that. We decline,” he said.
Today McCleskey Media does a great deal of political work for Martinez and many other New Mexico Republicans.
As for The Downs deal, I wrote in 2012 that the situation created at least the appearance of impropriety:
A company that gave lots of money to Martinez’s 2010 campaign won a lucrative contract after hiring a GOP insider who was communicating privately about the contract, before it was awarded, with, at the very least, McCleskey – who Martinez has called “a top adviser.”
McCleskey and Martinez’s office haven’t responded today to requests from NMPolitics.net for comment on The New Mexican’s new report.