Keller hit with second ethics complaint
By Dennis Domrzalski
Mayor Tim Keller's campaign has been hit with a second ethics violation complaint, this on saying that he should be removed from office and that his $600,000 in public campaign finance money should be revoked.
The complaint was filed Tuesday by Jason Katz, a retired law enforcement officer and supporter of Sheriff Manny Gonzales's mayoral campaign. The complaint alleges that Keller's campaign violated the city's election code and the city Charter. Here's the full complaint.
Specifically, it alleges that Keller's campaign allowed a firefighters union official, Justin Cheney, to collect campaign contributions for Keller at a city fire station. That, the complaint said, is a violation of the city Charter, which bans campaigning on city property. The Charter also bans city employees from campaigning for candidates while they're working on city time. The complaint said that Cheney was on city time when he sought the campaign contributions for Keller's campaign.
Cheney's campaigning on Keller's behalf should also have been reported by Keller's campaign as an in-kind contribution worth at least $250, the complaint said said. Cheney's in-kind contribution wasn't reported on Keller's latest campaign contribution report, another violation of city rules, the complaint said. Here's a quote from the complaint:
“The attached Exhibit 2 shows twenty-four (24) $5 Qualifying Contribution receipts signed by Justin Cheney as the representative of the Keller campaign collecting the contributions. Acting on behalf of Mayor Keller directly, it remains undisputed that Justin Cheney appeared (1) during working hours (2) at a city workplace (3) to promote Keller’s candidacy and (4) while acting in the scope of his employment, in which he discussed contracts and negotiations in conjunction with campaigning and collecting qualifying contributions for Mayor Keller. While violating all four of those prohibitions Justin Cheney both solicited political contributions for the Keller Campaign and accepted them on the campaign’s behalf. All twenty-four (24) Qualifying Contributions are the illicit product of Mr. Keller’s violations of multiple prohibitions against campaigning on City property on City time and all twenty-four (24) must be rejected as false and fraudulent.”
The complaint also alleges Keller’s campaign improperly accepted seed funding ranging from $25 to $250 from six non-city residents, four of whom had out-of-state addresses. City rules say that only city residents can contribute seed money, the complaint said.
Keller's campaign manager Neri Holguin told the Albuquerque Journal that the latest complaint was “theatrics” and that Keller's campaign did not condone Cheney's actions.
The two campaigns have been filing complaints against each other over the summer. Keller's campaign alleged that Gonzales's campaign submitted forged public funding qualifying signatures and contributions and convinced city Clerk Ethan Watson, a Keller appointee, to revoke Gonzales's $660,000 in public funding.
The complaint said that Keller should be removed from office.
Keller’s conduct is the type of conduct that the City’s ethics provisions have tried to make a thing of the past by including prohibitions in multiple sections of the City’s Charter and Ethics provisions,” the complaint said. “It warrants his removal from office and the return of all public funding for his campaign. In addition to these violations, Keller has committed the very same offenses he accused his opponent of, and if the rule of law means anything, he must receive the same punishment: the withholding of all public funding. And he should also be removed from office.”