For weeks, the top campaign official for Gov. Susana Martinez has been reluctant to address an allegation that an investigator from the Third Judicial District Attorney’s Office used a law-enforcement database to run illegal queries of license plate numbers for Martinez during her 2010 gubernatorial campaign.
Following the publication of a Mother Jones profile in April, which reported the allegation that Republican campaign officials allegedly obtained the plate numbers from vehicles thought to be owned or operated by Democratic opposition, SFR asked Martinez’ top political advisor Jay McCleskey about it. In a series of emails, he never addressed the allegation directly and refused to comment on the record.
That changed Monday, following comments made by Martinez’ predecessor, Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson, who addressed the license plate allegation for Albuquerque political blogger Joe Monahan. “And her [Martinez] using the law enforcement system to track down employees who have bumper stickers opposing her,” Richardson said, “that borders on criminality.”
McCleskey wrote to SFR that “the allegation is nonsensical and false,” yet he repeatedly refused to answer the direct question, “Did Susana Martinez’ 2010 gubernatorial campaign, or anyone on its behalf, use any government resource to run a license plate number?”
Richardson’s comments were off the mark. Nobody has alleged that Martinez personally ran license plate numbers. Nor has anyone alleged she ran license plate numbers of “employees.”
SFR has for a year sought records about vehicle queries run through the FBI’s National Criminal Information Center database by Martinez’ DA office in 2010. Using that database for political research is illegal. The state’s Department of Public Safety, a Martinez agency, says it destroyed records that reveal use of the database during that time.