SANTA FE — Political flyers touting Gov. Susana Martinez’s accomplishments are hitting mailboxes in Albuquerque — the work of a nonprofit group that doesn’t have to disclose who’s paying for them.
Martinez political strategist Jay McCleskey said the nonprofit group, New Mexico Legacy, is countering “well-funded leftwing dark money groups that have spent well over a million dollars in opposition to these various issues over the previous months and years.”
Martinez, a Republican, is entering the last year of her second consecutive term as New Mexico governor, the limit set by the state Constitution. She hasn’t revealed any future political plans beyond that.
But she is preparing for her last regular legislative session as governor — when she plans to push for anti-crime legislation, an overhaul of the tax code and other longtime priorities.
The New Mexico Legacy advertisements resemble the kind of mailers common in campaign season.
One sent to a home in Albuquerque’s Northeast Heights, for example, highlights Martinez’s signing in 2011 of an expansion of “Katie’s Law,” which requires adults arrested for a felony to submit to DNA testing.
The flyer credits the expansion with helping solve “brutal murders and cold cases,” listing a variety of statistics and examples. Martinez, with tears in her eyes, is photographed with the mother of Katie Sepich, for whom the law was named.
Sepich was a New Mexico State University student murdered in 2003. Her killer
was identified with DNA evidence after he was convicted of another crime.
The flyer urges people to “Support Governor Susana Martinez’s efforts to crack down on crime.”
State corporation records list the officers of New Mexico Legacy as:
— President Amy Orlando, a former District Attorney in Doña Ana County. Martinez, herself a former Doña Ana County district attorney, appointed Orlando to succeed her in office when she won election seven years ago as governor.
— Treasurer Rob Doughty, an attorney and member of the University of New Mexico Board of Regents, appointed by Martinez.
— Secretary Jessica Perez, fundraising director of Martinez’s 2014 re-election campaign.
McCleskey responded to a Journal request for comment sent to Perez.
New Mexico Legacy, he said, is a nonprofit group “educating the public about important policy successes over recent years and advocating in favor of these issues. … It has no plans to engage in any electioneering.”
Nonprofit groups like New Mexico Legacy are allowed to engage in education campaigns, as long as politics isn’t their primary purpose. They generally don’t have to disclose their donors.
In addition to mailers, the group is also doing radio ads.
A Journal Poll in October last year found that 42 percent of likely voters surveyed said they approve of Martinez’s job performance, while 44 percent said they disapproved.