Political Consultant Rakes in Big Dough Working for Governor

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12 June 2012
by Alex Curtas, ProgressNowNM

While The Recession Has Most of Us Blue,
Governor’s Right-Hand Man is Piling Up the Green.
Gov. Martinez’s Closest Political Consultant Given More Than $1.6m Since 2009

Recently referred to as a “slick ABQ political consultant” by a member of his own party, Jay McCleskey and his political strategy companies have made over $1.6 million since 2009 in pursuit of electing more Republicans in the predominantly Democratic state of New Mexico.

Often referred to as “the 5th floor” because of the influence he exerts over the 4th floor of the Roundhouse, McCleskey is an increasingly controversial figure even as he remains a major player inside the Republican Party.

Known to wield an enormous amount of influence over Governor Martinez, McCleskey used to be largely unknown by those outside of political circles, but that is changing rapidly. Political blogger Joe Monahan has written that “[McCleskey’s] influence within the [Martinez] administration is said to be all encompassing and labeled pernicious by his critics. Some Republicans are fearful of complaining; they don’t want to cross the consultant, a sure sign that his power in the administration is formidable.” The power McCleskey has is so robust in fact that Republican State Senator Clint Harden (R-Clovis) recently told NMPolitics.net that, within the Martinez administration, ” I think the strategic shots are being called by Jay McCleskey, period.”

And though McCleskey’s leverage over the governor is often portrayed qualitatively, there is a growing amount of quantitative data to support the idea of McCleskey’s entrenched and abiding influence.

Though McCleskey has stated “If I was driven by trying to make money, I would not have chosen to work for Susana Martinez,” since McCleskey was brought on to consult on Susana Martinez’s gubernatorial campaign in 2010, he and his consultancy companies have received $1,270,963.34 from Susana Martinez’s gubernatorial campaign committee and her super-PAC (Source: New Mexico Campaign Finance Information System).

McCleskey became a partner at Lincoln Strategy Group in 2009 and the firm began receiving contracts for media production and political consulting from Martinez’s campaign committee (Susana for Governor) in 2010. After Martinez was elected governor, McCleskey started McCleskey Media Strategies and began working for Martinez’s newly formed super-PAC (Susana PAC).

From 2010 to 2011, Lincoln Strategy Group received $1,061,677.67 from Susana for Governor. From 2011 to the present, McCleskey Media Strategies has brought in $207,734.45 from Governor Martinez’s campaign committee and her super-PAC.

In 2010, while McCleskey was a partner at Lincoln, the firm was contracting with Dianna Duran’s Secretary of State campaign and was paid $100,000 for a media buy (Source: New Mexico Campaign Finance Information System).

McCleskey also worked as a consultant on R.J. Berry’s mayoral campaign in 2009 while at Lincoln. While Berry took $328,000 in public financing for his mayoral campaign, according to campaign finance reports Lincoln Strategy Group was paid $218,368.52 – a whopping 66% of taxpayer-funded campaign funds – from Berry during the campaign as well (Source: City of Albuquerque Campaign Reporting).

Additionally, the recently decided race between Pat Woods and Angie Spears – in which the governor took sides in the Republican primary by publicly endorsing Spears – saw McCleskey garner another $47,148.92.

A breakdown of the expenditures and in-kind contributions made by Susana for Governor and SusanaPAC to Jay McCleskey’s companies is available in the spreadsheets below:

Expenditures to McCleskey