New Mexico candidates and political action committees have paid more than $7 million in consulting fees and media buys to Jay McCleskey and his company since early 2011, an analysis of state campaign finance records shows. McCleskey, Gov. Susana Martinez’s top political adviser and viewed as the mastermind of her 2010 election and 2014 re-election, received another $110,000 in 2014 from a top GOP group Martinez is set to lead next year. It is no secret what McCleskey has pulled down in recent years as a top political consultant, but the money now appears to be under the microscope of an ongoing federal investigation. The Santa Fe New Mexican reported Friday night that the Federal Bureau of Investigation is looking into money the Martinez campaign spent on McCleskey’s services. The influential GOP consultant created McCleskey Media Strategies in 2011 after Martinez took office. Using a database from the Secretary of State’s office, New Mexico In Depth analyzed campaign and political action committee dollars paid to McCleskey, his firm and his wife’s firm since 2011.
The American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico and The Charles Koch Institute, two groups that arguably have differing opinions on many things, appeared on the same same stage in Albuquerque on Wednesday to discuss civil asset forfeiture. New Mexico famously ended the practice of civil asset forfeiture earlier this year. Representatives from the two groups, along with a criminal defense attorney and a former director of the Justice Department’s Asset Forfeiture Office, discussed the importance of reforming states’ laws regarding asset forfeiture. Moderated by Paul Gessing, the director of the free market think tank Rio Grande Foundation, the panel discussed how New Mexico recently passed a law to change how and why law enforcement is allowed to take property. One particularly interesting member of the panel was Brad Cates, a former prosecutor, New Mexico lawmaker and one of the people responsible for creating a law that allowed police to seize property without a conviction or even an arrest.
A House Committee saw a rare resurrection of a bill from the table, proving that legislation isn’t dead until the legislative session ends. While it is rare, legislation can be pulled off of the table, as happened in the House Appropriations and Finance Committee on Wednesday. The committee decided to reconsider the open government bill. Previously, the committee voted on party lines to table the bill. Republicans opposed the House rule change, while Democrats supported it.