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Hearing Officer Dismisses Coordination Complaint Against Keller

A city hearing officer said Tuesday that he has no jurisdiction to hear an ethics complaint that alleges that mayoral candidate Tim Keller and a PAC formed on his behalf illegally coordinated campaign activities.

The hearing officer, Stan Harada, dismissed the complaint against Keller and said that the man who filed it, former mayoral candidate Wayne Johnson, should refile it with the city's Board of Ethics.

“The city hearing officer is not authorized to conduct or initiate an investigation of an alleged violation of the [the city's] Open and Ethical Elections Code,” Harada said in a five-page opinion. “The city hearing officer has no authority to order discovery or subpoenas. Including depositions.”

That jurisdiction, Harada said, lies with the Board of Ethics.

Johnson told ABQReport that he would refile the complaint with the Board of Ethics.

The case involved an allegation that Keller's campaign and the PAC that supports him, ABQ Forward Together, coordinated expenditures in July when each group paid $15,000 to the same vendor within a day of one another.

Johnson and his attorney, Pat Rogers originally filed the case with City Clerk Natalie Howard, who forwarded it to the Albuquerque Board of Ethics.

But the board said it couldn't accept the complaint because it didn't comply with its rules and regulations. So Rogers asked that a hearing officer take the case to determine if Keller's campaign violated city election rules.

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