The largest individual donor to a New Mexico Republican super PAC pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor domestic violence charge in Las Vegas in 2013.
Marcus Hiles, a developer from Grand Prairie, Texas, donated $100,000 to Advance New Mexico Now. That political action committee raised more than $1 million last year to support GOP candidates, mostly in their successful effort to take over the state House, state records show.
Hiles and his wife, Nancy, also donated $10,400 each to Gov. Susana Martinez’s campaign, according to the New Mexico Secretary of State’s office.
The revelation of Hiles’ domestic violence guilty plea, reported by the Dallas Morning News, has caused several Texas candidates to donate the equivalent of Hiles’ contributions to groups working against domestic violence.
Martinez’s spokesman Enrique Knell did not return several phone calls or e-mails from New Mexico In Depth on Thursday. Matt Chandler, who was treasurer for Advance New Mexico during the campaign, did not return a phone call seeking comment.
New Mexico In Depth also has tried to contact Melissa Sousa, who managed Martinez’s 2014 campaign and is now listed as the PAC’s treasurer.
It would be difficult for Advance New Mexico Now to return or donate Hiles’ contributions. The PAC reported a balance of $2,490 in its last campaign filing in December.
Martinez had more than $246,000 remaining in her campaign coffers in December.
Last month, the Morning News reported that Hiles pleaded guilty two years ago in Las Vegas to a misdemeanor domestic violence charges for choking a dancer from a Dallas nightclub. The incident occurred in October 2012 after the two had been out drinking and began to fight in a cab on the way to the Wynn Hotel, the Morning News reported.
Hiles’ attorney denied his client choked the woman and told the Morning News Hiles pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor to avoid a felony trial.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and other elected officials donated the equivalent of their contributions from Hiles to groups working against domestic violence, the Morning News reported.
Hiles had donated $525,000 to Abbott’s campaign.
Matt Chandler, a Clovis attorney and former attorney general candidate closely allied with Martinez, served as treasurer and contact for Advance New Mexico Now. His work with the super PAC is at issue as the Senate considers his nomination to the University of New Mexico board of regents. Chandler told a Senate committee he ended his affiliation with the PAC after the election.
On Wednesday, the Senate called off discussion of Chandler’s regent appointment because the votes weren’t there despite a committee approval earlier in the day.
A prominent Democrat on Thursday said Chandler’s appearance before the Senate Rules Committee had been “expunged” and that he would appear before the committee for more questioning Friday.
In 2010, Martinez donated $20,000 in contributions from a former Texas gubernatorial candidate to a rape victim advocacy group. Clayton Williams Jr. had made a joke about rape in his 1990 campaign and that became an issue for the Martinez campaign.