Busted! Governor’s PAC shows illegal coordination with house and senate candidate campaigns
Albuquerque – Mailers sent by campaigns of State Senator John Ryan and State Representative Nate Gentry appear to be designed by the governor’s PAC Reform New Mexico Now, in violation of rules governing coordination between campaigns and PACs, new mail obtained by ProgressNowNM shows.
Campaigns of both Ryan and Gentry have mailed pieces showing a rope and noose around claims they voted to close corporate tax loopholes in 2011. Both pieces used the same image, design and language to support their claim (see paragraphs titled “Protecting New Mexico Jobs”).
The Ryan mailer, landing today, shows a return mail address for the Reform New Mexico Now PAC run by Martinez’s chief political consultant Jay McCleskey and the “paid for by John Ryan for State Senate.”
By law, campaigns and PACs are prohibited from coordinating but these mailers are prima facie evidence of just that.
“This is blatantly illegal and shows what many have speculated for months: Jay McCleskey and his out-of-state buddies are teaming up with Republican candidates to win these elections at any cost, all with a wink and a nod promising they are following the law.” says Pat Davis of ProgressNowNM. “These tactics are illegal and unethical. If they are endorsed by the governor or Republicans, they should all be held accountable.”
Coordination between PACs and campaigns can bring hefty penalties. Mark Block, now infamous as Republican Herman Cain’s chain-smoking campaign manager, was fined and barred from working in elections in WI for three years after he was caught illegally coordinating with a candidate’s campaign. His partner, a former State Assembly Republican, was barred for five years.
McCleskey has previously said Reform New Mexico Now PAC is working to elect candidates supporting Governor Martinez’s agenda. McCleskey was the governor’s 2010 campaign manager and is also associated with the Susana PAC. McCleskey and candidates supported by the governor have insisted, with a wink and a nod, that they are not coordinating but merely have similar messages.
ProgressNow NM is calling on both the Secretary of State and Attorney General to investigate this illegal coordination and order McCleskey and his PAC to cease their activities until the investigation can be completed.
This piece is another in what has become our continuing series on Republican election violations in New Mexico.
Last week we exposed a Republican party poll challenger guide and training that improperly trained Republicans to demand identification and deny regular ballots and assistance to certain voters. We also exposed the non-profit True The Vote group (under Congressional investigation for voter suppression tactics) coordinating, in apparent violation of IRS rules, with the Bernalillo County Republican Party.
We previously reported that Governor Martinez had hired a Republican political opposition research firm to train state staffers to perform similar research.
Update: On October 12, 2012, we filed a formal complaint against Reform New Mexico Now PAC with the New Mexico Secretary of State. See the complaint letter below.