Political advisor to Gov Martinez calls resignation letter “pretty ridiculous”
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One of the top political advisors to Gov. Susana Martinez told Capitol Report New Mexico that the allegations made in a resignation letter by the deputy secretary in the state tourism office are ridiculous.
Jay McCleskey responded Tuesday (July 19) to a letter written by Toni Balzano, a holdover from the administration of Gov. Bill Richardson. On July 14, Balzano wrote to Martinez chief of staff Keith Gardner that she was quitting, saying “I … have had to defend myself against references that I am a Democrat Terrorist Al Qaeda member, a Richardson girlfriend, a spy poised to take down the administration.”Balzano went on to say that McCleskey was behind “these slanderous allegations.”
“You have a Richardson appointee who chose to resign before she was being asked to leave,” McCleskey said Tuesday evening. “I don’t really have anything to say. The letter is pretty ridiculous. It speaks for itself.”
Balzano worked as a public information officer and then as deputy cabinet secretary at the New Mexico Economic Development Department under Richardson before transferring to the Tourism Department. In the letter dated July 14, Balzano claimed she was banned — at the governor’s request — from a news conference announcing a summer tourism promotion featuring Billy the Kid that Balzano had been working on and that she was subjected to a “hostile work environment.”
Balzano was an at-will employee, who served at the pleasure of the sitting governor and the Santa Fe New Mexican reported in its Tuesday edition that Martinez spokesman Scott Darnell described the resignation as part of a larger transition that occurs when one governor takes over from another of a different party.
While we had a chance to talk to McCleskey, we asked him about a number of other issues. Regarded as one of the sharpest political minds in the Southwest, McCleskey heads his own political consulting group — McCleskey Media Strategies – and directs Martinez’ political action committee, known as Susana PAC.
Susana PAC is aimed at helping Republicans get elected to statewide positions and, as one might expect, was criticized by Democrats. Here’s McCleskey:
And here’s McCleskey talking about a recent survey from a Democratic Party polling group that reported strong support for Martinez and mentioned her as a possible national candidate:
Posted under Capitol Report.
Tags: Billy the Kid, Capitol Report New Mexico, Jay McCleskey, McCleskey Media Strategies, New Mexico Economic Development Department, New Mexico Tourism Department, Santa Fe New Mexican, Susana Martinez, Susana PAC, Toni Balzano