Finance reports show GOP candidates, PACs paying large legal retainers as FBI investigation into Martinez/McCleskey goes forward

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A long-rumored FBI investigation into funders and fundraisers connected to Gov. Susana Martinez came to light over the past 24-hours as reporters began confirming that federal agents had interviewed and taken evidence from former Martinez donors and appointees.

Read the latest from The New Mexico Political Report here:

Report: Guv’s fundraising under FBI scrutiny (Nov. 7. 2015)

Earlier this year, as politicos were focussed on (now former) Sec. of State Dianna Duran’s misdeeds with fundraising and finance reporting, ProgressNowNM found several recent high-dollar expenditures from GOP PACs and campaigns to law firms connected to Martinez and her advisors.

According to campaign finance reports, Republican Majority Leader Nate Gentry’s leadership campaign and leadership PAC paid Republican lawyers Pat Rogers a $2,500 “retainer for misc legal matters” earlier late last spring, as Eastwood says he was being interviewed. Gentry also paid former Martinez-appointee Paul Kennedy $5,000 for undisclosed legal expenses in June.

Susana PAC, run by Jay McCleskey, paid also paid Rogers $10,000in February of last year for undisclosed legal services.

While campaigns routinely pay attorneys small fees for work, the “retainer for misc legal matters” paid by Gentry’s PAC to Rogers, appears to be unprecedented in the payment reason and amount.

What’s more, the lawyer retained by Gentry is at the center of a lawsuit from the same FBI witness who now confirms to the NM Political Report that he turned over evidence to federal investigators:

Eastwood is co-plaintiff to a whistleblower lawsuit against his former workplace, the state Economic Development Department, and Cabinet Secretary Jon Barela and Deputy Cabinet Secretary Barbara Brazil.

The lawsuit, filed last year in Santa Fe District Court, accuses Barela of corruption, retaliation and mismanagement. Among the lawsuit’s allegations are that Barela of paying the web company Real Time Solutions $30,000 without a state contract, which would violate the state procurement code. The company’s web developer is the wife of Albuquerque attorney and lobbyist Pat Rogers, a Republican National Committeeman and a close advisor to Martinez’ administration.

Susana Martinez promised to usher in a new era of clean government in Santa Fe, but so far Republicans have had a tough time living up to the hype.  Stay tuned.