Senate Majority Leader Sen. Michael S. Sanchez (D-29-Bernalillo & Valencia) today called on Governor Susana Martinez to direct one of her political action committees (PACs) to return more than $100,000 received from a donor who pleaded guilty to domestic violence in 2013, and to return more than $20,000 from her own re-election campaign committee from the same donor. The criminal incident publicly came to light last week in a story by New Mexico In Depth which reported that Marcus Hiles, a Texas developer who donated $100,000 to Advance New Mexico Now and more than $20,000 from both him and his wife to the Gov.’s re-election campaign, pleaded guilty two years ago in Las Vegas, NV to domestic violence charges.
“Mr. Hiles was convicted two years ago for viciously attacking a woman. Governor Martinez certainly would have known about this when she accepted his money for her re-election effort. He was the largest single donor to her PAC, Advance New Mexico Now,” said Sen. Sanchez. “One in four women experience violence in our country. It is a serious national problem that harms women in New Mexico, too. What kind of message does that send to the people of our state? Now that the incident has come to light, the right thing to do is for the Governor to return those contributions.”
According to reports, Hiles choked a nightclub dancer in October, 2012 after the two had been out drinking and began to fight in a cab on the way to the Wynn Hotel. Additionally, The Dallas Morning News reported that Hiles was captured on a security camera slapping the woman in the Las Vegas hotel, throwing her to the ground on an elevator, and stomping on her cellphone. The woman later told police that Hiles afterwards choked her to unconsciousness in their hotel room.
Last summer when her Democratic opponent Gary King returned $35,000 in campaign contributions he received from a convicted sex offender, Jeffrey Epstein, Gov. Martinez referred to Epstein as King’s “largest donor”, and had this to say:
“I certainly think you would know where your money comes from… and it just so happens to be a sex offender.” [9/9/14, Santa Fe New Mexican]
The treasurer of the Advance New Mexico Now PAC, at the time Hiles contributed $100,000, was Gov. Martinez’s close political ally and former District Attorney, Matt Chandler. Chandler was rejected for an appointment to the University of New Mexico Board of Regents last week by the Senate. Melissa Sousa, who managed Martinez’s 2014 campaign, is currently listed as the PAC’s treasurer.