A Super PAC connected to Governor Martinez has launched at least four attack ads a statewide newspaper, television news, candidates and fact-checkers say are “blatantly false” and continuing a “reputation for making demonstrably false claims against candidates it opposes.”
This is prompting civic education groups to call on the PAC to halt the ads and issue corrections to voter.
“I’ve been a candidate and run PACs to help candidates for years,” says Pat Davis, executive director of ProgressNowNM and it’s Progressive Champions PAC, “but I’ve never heard of a sitting governor just stand there and watch as her PAC sends out an ad based on bad information, then sit by and watch as they just make up facts for four more.”
Advance New Mexico Now, run by Governor Martinez’s campaign manager Jay McCleskey and her former treasurer Jessica Perez, reported taking in more than $1 million this election cycle to promote candidates who support Governor Martinez’s agendas. Finance reports show that the McCleskey earns more than $16,000 per month ($192,000/yr on average) for “professional services” to the PAC, in addition to his cut of work done through his media firm which produces ads for the group.
At least four ads appearing in legislative districts statewide have been called “false” by newspaper election reports or candidates themselves:
- On Tuesday, KOAT TV reported that State Senator Michael Sanchez had never traveled to Hawaii, even though voters in that Valencia & Bernalillo County District received mail from the PAC saying Sanchez had used public dollars to take a trip to Hawaii. The Senator’s office produced public travel records to refute the ad.
- The Santa Fe New Mexican says the PAC has “further[ed] its reputation for falsehoods” with this ad.
- In that same Senate race, another ad by the PAC says the Senator had been dismissive of the concerns of the widow of Officer Greg Benner who was killed in the line of duty in Rio Rancho in 2015. The Senator’s staff in Santa Fe report that she never requested a meeting and reviewed public meeting logs to support that.
- In HD23, the PAC attacked Democrat Damon Ely, an attorney, for representing an accused sex offender. But a call to Ely’s law office confirms that Ely, a civil and ethics attorney, has never practiced criminal law.
- In October, the Santa Fe New Mexican called out the PACs ads attacking ProgressNow and a Democratic State Senator as “false” “convoluted” and “strange”
In the 2014 election cycle, the same PAC targeted voters in Democrat Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard’s Los Alamos district claiming she voted for a bill she actually opposed and, in another district, represented a vote to put teachers in classrooms as a vote to send public education funds to lobbyists.
“Mistakes happen,” says Pat Davis, executive director of ProgressNow and Progressive Champions PAC, a group working to correct these ads with voters. “But every ad they send now is just so false that they aren’t even trying to include sources for these claims. They just send them out so fast and with so much money behind them that candidates don’t have time to respond.”
“It’s a win at any cost strategy that says they can’t win on their own ideas so they have to make up crazy personal attacks against their opponents. This is no what makes people hate elections, but they should point the finger straight at Governor Martinez who hasn’t denounced them, apologized for them or even tried to correct a single one,” adds Davis.
McCleskey, who runs Advance New Mexico now from his Uptown ABQ office, was investigated by the FBI and US Attorney’s Office for using shell companies to hide his involvement in negative campaigns like these.