New Mexico State Auditor Tim Keller announced on January 11, 2017 he is running for Mayor of Albuquerque.
Mr. Keller used an impressive, well produced video to make his announcement for mayor and no doubt it was costly.
In his announcement Tim Keller says “Let’s elect a Mayor without the big money we’ve come to expect in politics. That’s why we are running a community-driven, publicly financed campaign that fits the future of Albuquerque.”
Mr. Keller has elected to seek public financing and not private financing to run for mayor.
I can understand why Mr. Keller would complain about spending “big money” in politics seeing as he played that game himself just over two years ago when he ran for State Auditor and won.
According to the New Mexico Secretary of State’s Office and campaign finance reports filed, Mr. Keller received contributions of $487,276.66 and had expenditures of $545,372 as a candidate for New Mexico State Auditor, a four year term he will not finish if elected Mayor of Albuquerque in October.
The position of New Mexico State Auditor pays $85,000 a year.
The next Mayor of Albuquerque will be paid $125,000 a year.
Under Albuquerque’s public finance laws, you must collect 3,600 qualifying $5 donations and then you are given approximately $379,000 for your campaign for Mayor.
According to the Albuquerque City Clerk’s calendar for Mayor, candidates for Mayor can start to collect the qualifying $5 donations on February 16, 2017 and can collect seed money of up to $100 from donors. (http://www.cabq.gov/clerk/documents/candidate-calendar-10-03-17.pdf)
According to the New Mexico Secretary of State First Biannual “Report of Expenditures and Contributions” filed on April 11, 2016, New Mexico State Auditor Tim Keller had $37,755 total monetary in contributions and had total expenditures of $27,081.10 for the reporting period and paid $22,944.57 to a firm listed as “Full Arsenal” for “consulting”.
According to the Second Biannial “Report of Expenditures and Contributions” filed on October 11, 2016 for the reporting period, Mr. Keller had $14,900 total monetary contributions with total expenditure of $25,414.00 and paid $14,018.63 to “Rio Strategies”.
Both “Full Arsenal” and “Rio Strategies” have the identical business address according to the Secretary of State online records.
Perhaps during the course of his campaign for Mayor, New Mexico State Auditor Tim Keller will disclose to the press and voting public exactly what was the “consulting” and services performed for him by Full Arsenal and Rio Strategies and why did he need “consulting” as the New Mexico State Auditor and were those firms paid to do work for the State of New Mexico.
Additionally it will be interesting to find out if Full Arsenal and Rio Strategies have been doing work and paid to do work on Keller’s campaign for Mayor of Albuquerque for the past year even before he announced and even before he has qualified for public financing.
It is very noble and commendable that any candidate for Mayor and city council would seek public financing to run their campaign, just as long as that is what really happens.
It was made clear to me when I ran for mayor four years ago, the city campaign reporting and finance laws do not allow collecting donations until the year of the election.
It is an ethical issue of the appearance of impropriety and what promises are made by candidates to get poltical donations, how will the money be used, who is the candidate indebted to and who will have influence over the candidate once elected to office.
The influence of big corporate money in elections allowed by the US Supreme Court decision Citizens United is destroying our democracy.
Political campaign fundraising and big money influence are warping our election process.
Money spent becomes equated with the final vote.
Money drives the message, affects voter turnout and ultimately the final outcome.
All too often, good, decent and qualified candidates do not run because they cannot raise the money.
Albuquerque municipal elections need campaign finance reform and enforcement.
On November 28, 2016 I posted on this blog my article “2017 Mayor’s Race Needs Public Finance Reform.”