ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) – New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez said Monday that she's confident a close political adviser did nothing wrong and called allegations of fundraising violations "cheap shots" following reports of a federal investigation.
In a statement to The Associated Press, the Republican governor said she's aware of complaints being raised about her political consultant Jay McCleskey. The complaints, Martinez said, are coming from political opponents who have tried to attack her previously.
"They failed against me, and now it appears they've moved on to people who work for me. They'll fail there, too, and I am confident that neither Jay, nor anyone else, has done anything wrong. They can't beat him, so they try to smear him," Martinez said.
Her comments come after the Santa Fe New Mexican reported that the FBI has interviewed some state Republicans about Martinez's fundraising activities and McCleskey. The newspaper said it was unclear what potential violations federal agents are investigating.
McCleskey did not immediately return a phone message and an email from The AP.
FBI spokesman Frank Fisher said the agency could neither confirm nor deny it is conducting an investigation.
Still, the Democratic Party of New Mexico used the newspaper's story to attack Martinez and McCleskey, who helped orchestrate Martinez's rise to the governor's mansion in 2010 and helped Republicans capture the New Mexico House in 2014 for the first time since the administration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
McCleskey also served as a political consultant for Reform New Mexico Now, a political action committee that spent nearly $700,000 on radio ads and mailings in targeted House races.
"We know Gov. Martinez keeps Jay McCleskey as her top (adviser) because he gets his hands dirty for her," Democratic Party of New Mexico executive director Joe Kabourek said. "Instead of focusing on her out of state donors and the special interests, Gov. Martinez needs to put our New Mexican families first."
Martinez, the nation's only Latina governor and a rising star within the GOP, said she believed investigators will look at the case fairly.
"As a former prosecutor myself, I trust the system to look into and then reject these types of political cheap shots," she said.