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Writer: Source isn’t ex-aide

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The author of a magazine profile of Jay McCleskey, political adviser to Gov. Susana Martinez, says a former Martinez campaign manager under federal indictment isn’t the “former top aide” quoted in the article.

(Read the National Journal article: The Man Who Discovered Susana Martinez Could Also Be Her Downfall)

The Governor’s Office has said it is confident former campaign manager Jamie Estrada is one of the story’s unnamed sources. It also believes he provided a referenced chain of emails from 2009 involving Martinez, McCleskey, Estrada and others on the issue of driver’s licenses for immigrants who don’t have lawful status to be in the country.

The profile of McCleskey, published last week in the Washington, D.C.-based National Journal, cites both named and unnamed sources. The article refers four times to a “former top aide” without naming the aide.

In a posting on the National Journal website after the Governor’s Office alleged Estrada was a source, author Daniel Libit wrote: “Jamie Estrada is not the ‘former top aide’ I quote in the piece.”

Libit, reached by telephone, declined to comment further about the posting or the story, which portrays McCleskey as exercising inappropriate and extensive control over government affairs.

The article also placed Martinez in an unfavorable light, portraying her as someone not quite ready for the national political stage.

The Governor’s Office has called the story a sexist, racist “tabloid piece” based on “disgruntled sources.” At least some of those quoted by name in the article object to that characterization.

Estrada has been indicted on federal charges of lying to the FBI and intercepting campaign emails after Martinez’s election in 2010. He had served briefly as her campaign manager the previous year.

I have been unable to reach Estrada for comment on the accusation that he was a source for the National Journal article.

ESTRADA: Ex-campaign manager for Martinez

ESTRADA: Ex-campaign manager for Martinez

Think tank funding

Major U.S. corporations have been among the financial supporters of the State Policy Network, a nationwide network of so-called free-market think tanks, according to a new report by the Center for Media and Democracy.

The Rio Grande Foundation in Albuquerque is a member of the State Policy Network, based in suburban Washington, D.C.

In the report, the Center for Media and Democracy said it had obtained a public document listing the network’s 2010 funding sources. The list included the Philip Morris and Reynolds American tobacco companies, Microsoft, Kraft Foods, pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline and the Comcast, AT&T, Verizon and Time Warner Cable communications corporations.

I asked the State Policy Network whether the list was accurate but received no response. The group’s president told Politico that the network, like other nonprofits, keeps its donors private.

The new report also listed the sponsors of the State Policy Network annual meeting in September. That list included some familiar names on the right, including the Charles Koch Institute, the American Legislative Exchange Council, the Heritage Foundation, Americans for Prosperity and the Donors Capital Fund and the affiliated DonorsTrust.

I reported in 2012 that Donors Capital, one of the nation’s biggest givers to libertarian and other conservative organizations, had provided substantial financial support to the Rio Grande Foundation.

McCLESKEY: Gov. Martinez’s political adviser

McCLESKEY: Gov. Martinez’s political adviser

The Center for Media and Democracy in Madison, Wis., is a liberal watchdog group. Its report said the State Policy Network and its affiliates are pushing an extreme right-wing agenda, but the network said it doesn’t dictate the work of the think tanks.

Rio Grande Foundation President Paul Gessing said in a website posting that the “report focuses primarily on money and where it comes from rather than any honest discussion over the issues and their merits.”

The report was part of a joint effort with ProgressNow based in St. Paul, Minn. ProgressNow New Mexico is an affiliate. It is a frequent critic of Republican Gov. Martinez and describes itself as a public relations firm for progressive causes.

I reported last year that the national ProgressNow group is funded by some of the country’s deepest pockets on the left.

UpFront is a daily front-page news and opinion column. Comment directly to Thom Cole at or 505-992-6280 in Santa Fe. Go to to submit a letter to the editor.