March 4, 2016

Gov’s top political adviser will not face charges

The smoke surrounding an FBI investigation into a top political adviser did not result in any fire.

Jay McCleskey, via McCleskey Media Strategies

Jay McCleskey, via McCleskey Media Strategies

That’s what an attorney for Jay McCleskey said on Friday, saying that the grand jury investigation into McCleskey is over and that McCleskey will not be facing any charges.

The Albuquerque Journal first reported the news.

“We have been informed that the investigation has been terminated and no charges will be forthcoming,” Kennedy told the newspaper.

NM Political Report confirmed with Kennedy over the phone that the investigation is over. He would not elaborate beyond what he told the Journal.

“As a matter of policy, Justice Department agencies, including the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI, cannot comment on investigative matters,” a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s office said in an email.

It is standard practice for the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s office to neither confirm nor deny investigations, even after they are concluded.

NM Political Report also reached out to a spokesman for Susana Martinez as well as McCleskey Media, the firm run by McCleskey, for reactions. We will update this post if they get back to us.

A report from November said that the FBI was looking into McCleskey and fundraising related to the 2011 inauguration of Martinez.

New Mexico Republicans were questioned by the FBI in the investigation.

Shortly after the November reports, Martinez told the Associated Press she was sure that McCleskey did nothing wrong.

“They failed against me, and now it appears they’ve moved on to people who work for me. They’ll fail there, too, and I am confident that neither Jay, nor anyone else, has done anything wrong. They can’t beat him, so they try to smear him,” Martinez said in a statement to the Associated Press.

Days later, Martinez took McCleskey to Las Vegas for a Republican Governors Association Meeting. At that meeting, Republican governors picked Martinez to lead the organization.

McCleskey’s high profile past

McCleskey is very influential in New Mexico Republican politics and rose to prominence after success in managing Richard Berry’s successful mayoral campaign in Albuquerque. He then became Martinez’s campaign guru, winning a five-way Republican primary in 2010 and then defeating Diane Denish in the general election. Martinez easily won reelection in 2014.

McCleskey also holds the reins of Susana PAC, a political action committee that spends big in state elections and helped Republicans take control of the state House.

NM Political Report later confirmed that the FBI was asking about issues in the administration itself, which included alleged issues with the Taxation and Revenue Department.

The FBI also subpoenaed records from Martinez’s time as District Attorney.

There are no state rules governing financing for the private event. Legislation to impose rules on the money that could be raised and spent on inaugurations was not heard this year, because Martinez did not send a message deeming the issue germane to the legislative session; the governor decides what non-budget items can be discussed during a 30-day legislative session.

Joey Peters contributed to this report.