What You Can Expect From Lazy News Station Reporters: Keller Spoon Feeds Reporters Positive Spin On His Sale Of City Owned Historic Building To His Donors

The Rosenwald Building is a historic building located In Downtown Albuquerque on Central and built in 1910. It was the first reinforced concrete building in the city. It is a massive 42,000-square-foot three-story building with a two-story recessed entrance and simple geometric ornamentation. The building was added to the New Mexico State Register of Cultural Properties and the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. The Rosenwald Building was renovated in 1981 and the upper floors were converted to office space. The city of Albuquerque bought the building in 2007 for $1.7 million under Mayor Chavez who left office in 2009. The building remained vacant with the city never developing it for its own use and city services.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosenwald_Building

https://www.krqe.com/news/albuquerque-metro/city-moves-to-sell-historic-downtown-albuquerque-building/

MAYOR KELLER SPOON FEEDS LAZY NEWS REPORTERS

On Wednesday, July 21, KOB Channel 4, KOAT Channel 7 and Channel 13 did news reports on Mayor Tim Keller’s sale of the historic Rosenwald Building in a “private sale” and efforts to revitalize downtown and how APD will have a substation in the building. All 3 news reports reflect what we can expect from local news media being spoon fed via press conference giving only glowing reports of the Keller Administration and leaving out damaging information as Keller seeks a second term. Review of all 3 news stories is in order.

CHANNEL 4 REPORT

Following is the transcript of the Channel 4 report with the link to the full story:

STORY HEADLINE: Albuquerque plans to revitalize downtown, add new police station

“People are out, businesses are open, but the recovery is just getting started.

“We are seeing some very, very positive momentum with respect to downtown,” Mayor Tim Keller said.

Keller wants downtown to be a place people want to be. He said that starts with addressing one of the biggest community concerns – crime.

“Being downtown and being visible, having a place people can walk right up to file a police report or ask for services or assistance, that’s going to make us that much more effective,” Albuquerque Police Department Officer Hence Williams said.

APD will have a new downtown police station filling an empty space at the Rosenwald Building at Fourth and Central, which is an upgrade from its current post at the transit center.

“The challenge with the station in the Alvarado Transit Center, it’s very hidden,” Keller said. “We put a sign out but it’s hard for people to find and it’s also at just one end of downtown.”

City officials said the revitalization efforts extended beyond that building. They revamped more lighting during the pandemic but they have more plans to light up dark areas of downtown, including alleys.

Officials are also planning to literally clean the place up – with street sweepers and clean-up crews.

“We’ll also have a dedicated graffiti crew assigned to this downtown district to erraticate any graffiti even before it gets called in,” said Matthew Whelan, director of the Solid Waste Department.

Albuquerque is also moving forward with the development of a one-mile Rail Trail that will connect the Rail Yards to the Albuquerque Convention Center, Transit Station, and Glorietta Station. The $5 million project is in the design phase.”

https://www.kob.com/albuquerque-news/albuquerque-plans-to-revitalize-downtown-add-new-police-station/6179179/?cat=500

CHANNEL 7 REPORT

Following is the transcript of the Channel 7 report with the link to the full story:

STORY HEADLINE: APD substation to go in heart of downtown on Central
SUBHEADLINE: Family working with city to try and fix up the area

“Right now, the heart of downtown Albuquerque is a bit heartbreaking.

A lot of once-cool old buildings are now boarded up. There is broken glass.

There is also hope.

“Somebody has to go first and we knew when some of these historic properties started to go up, we felt like it had to be us, and this is another example of our investment in downtown,” said Carlos Garcia.

Garcia and his family grew up near downtown. They just bought an old building in the middle of downtown Albuquerque. They are working with the city to try and fix up the area. Their hope is to convert an old, historic building into new offices or home space.

The first tenants in their building will be APD officers in a new police substation.

“We want to make it a more inviting place so we figured that the more police presence down here people will feel safe coming down here,” said APD Commander Scott Norris.

In 2007, the city bought the old building with the intention of converting it into a Holocaust museum. That never happened. So it sat vacant, falling apart. The city put it on the market. The Garcia family were the only bidders.

“Major reconstruction needs to happen and the Garcia’s have stepped up to do that as part of their investment in downtown,” said Lawrence Rael, the city’s chief operations officer.

Garcia says they’ll have major work to do on the building, and says the police substation will be a priority. He says that a portion of the building should be open and operational by January.

City leaders are also promising to clean up the area and have put in additional lighting.

KOAT asked about financial aid for businesses that have been vandalized.

A spokeswoman says there was a $139,000 grant for that. City leaders say they’re seeking additional funding for downtown businesses that have been vandalized.”

https://www.koat.com/article/apd-substation-to-go-in-heart-of-downtown-on-central/37096410

CHANNEL 13 REPORT

Following is the transcript of the Channel 13 report with the link to the full story:

HEADLINE: City of Albuquerque looks to revitalize downtown space

The City of Albuquerque is working on revitalizing downtown, making it safer for everyone. The city and Mayor Tim Keller are seeing that all successful big cities also have a very vibrant downtown. They believe Albuquerque’s downtown has potential.

Mayor Keller refers to downtown as the core of the city but says it needs to be safer. First, the city is planning on lowering the speed limit throughout the area and fix the police presence in downtown.

They sold the Rosenwald building at Fourth Street and Central to a company that plans to put in condos. That deal includes a lease agreement with the Albuquerque Police Department to turn part of the first floor into a substation. Officers hope the condos will help build more relationships with citizens downtown.

“Being right downtown, being visible, having a place people can walk right up to file a police report or ask for services or assistance is just going to make us that much more effective,” said Officer Hence Williams, Albuquerque Police Department.

The downtown patrol the city has currently will move from the Transit Center to the Rosenwald Building once renovations are done. They also plan on changing shifts for APD in order to rework shift hours so officers are out during peak bar hours downtown. Over the past two months, downtown officers say they have responded to 31 fights and 47 DWI arrests.

https://www.krqe.com/news/albuquerque-metro/city-of-albuquerque-looks-to-revitalize-downtown-space/

CITY COUNCIL VOTES TO APPROVE KELLER’S REQUEST TO SELL ROSENWALD BUILDING

It was on June 7 that it was reported the City Council voted to approve the “sale and lease” of the historic Rosenwald Building for $360,000 in a “private bid” to build condos. In 2009, the city had purchased the historic 42,000-square-foot building for $1.7 million. The City Council had more than a few questions as well as reservations because they simply did not understand the transaction. The Youtube link to the city council discussion is here:.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MMtd_sRMxJg

Chief Operations Officer Lawrence Rael explained to the council how the transaction “sale and lease” worked. Rael explained the sale included a 14-year lease back by the city for a 1,400 square foot APD substation. The “sale and lease” was explained by Rael as not the traditional type of mortgage sale nor lease. The lease by the city is a financial arrangement where monthly rent owed by the city for the substation once it’s built out will be deducted from the $360,000 purchase price. In other words, the sale did not require payment of any cash by the purchasers.

There is no discussion of the building being on the historical register. Further, the city council was told the city owned only the first and second floors and was paying $50, 000 yearly for the maintenance cost. It was State funding allocated by legislature of $1.7 million to buy the building for the holocaust museum. Chief Operations Officer Lawrence Rael told councilors that the city contacted the State before the sale and asked if they wanted it and the state declined to take it. No questions were asked by councilor’s regarding who are principles of the Limited Liability Corporation purchasing the building.

TOWNSITE QO21

Online records reveal a company called Townsite Qo21 LLC put in a private bid for $350,000, the so called appraised value of the Rosenwald building. The company intends to build condominiums. Qo21 is a New Mexico Domestic Limited-Liability Company created on January 16, 2019. The company’s filing status is listed as Active and its File Number is 5814235. The Registered Agent on file for this company is Edward Garcia, who is also one of the principals with the Garcia Automotive. The Garcia family, the principal owners of the Garcia Automotive group, are also major stakeholders in the Albuquerque downtown real estate.

$50,000 DONATION MADE TO KELLER’S CHARITABLE FOUNDATION

On February 7, 2020 the Albuquerque Journal reported that Mayor Tim Keller’s “Albuquerque One Foundation” raised nearly $250,000 with Mayor Keller involved with the solicitation of the donations. Records provided by the city pursuant to a request for public records show most of the money came from a cross section of well-known businesses and individuals. The donations that make up the $250,000 are not small donations from people but are in the thousands made by a few. All told, 35 entities and individuals donated $248,250 to the fund.

A breakdown of the larger donations to Keller’s “Albuquerque One Foundation” revealed that the Garcia Automotive Group was the single largest donor and donating $50,000. Garcia Subaru is part of the Garcia Automotive which also owns several car dealerships, including Honda, Volkswagen, Infiniti, Cadillac, Mercedes, Jaguar, Land Rover and Alfa Romeo. The Garcia family also own significant parcels of commercial real estate in the Old Town Area and has a stake in the New Mexico United professional soccer team, with the city currently looking for a new site for a soccer stadium.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1421506/familiar-businesses-back-abq-foundation.html

DONATIONS MADE TO MEASURED FINANCE COMMITTEE PROMOTING KELLER

The measured finance committee formed to support Mayor Tim Keller’s bid for a second 4 year term is called “BUILD BACK ‘BURQUE”. Review of the third Financial Statement filed by Build Back ‘Burque reveals the following major donors:

ED GARCIA, Garcia Automotive Group: $5,000
TOBY GARCIA, Garcia Automotive Group: $5,000
ED GARCIA, Garcia Automotive Group: $2,500
TOBY GARCIA, Garcia Automotive Group:$2,500

Note that Ed Garcia and Toby Garcia are listed as with Garcia Automotive Group. Both donated $7,500 each for a total of $15,000 of the $21,999.36 closing balance for “Build Back ‘Burque”.

The link to the 2021 Campaign Finance Reports for BUILD BACK ‘BURQUE is here:

https://campaignfinance.cabq.gov/PublicSite/SearchPages/OrganizationDetail.aspx?OrganizationID=7112

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

The Channel 4, 7 and 13 reports is what you can expect from lazy news station reporters who ask no questions and do no investigation and only report positive things that they are “spoon fed” by Mayor Tim Keller in his press conferences as he seeks a second term. All 3 news stations failed to report that Keller sold a historic 42,000 square foot building the city bought for $1.7 million with state monies for $360,000 to people who donated $50,000 to the Mayor Keller’s charitable foundation and $15,000 to the measured finance committee promoting him for a second term.

$305,000 MEDIAN SALE PRICE FOR HOME

What adds insult to injury is the selling an historical building for $360,000 for luxury condos that in all likely will be sold each for at least $300,000 with a police substation that will be a selling point for condo purchasers.

On July 12, it was reported that for the first time, the median sale price for a single-family home in metro Albuquerque has eclipsed $300,000. The median sale price for a detached single-family house hit $305,000 in June, up 25.8% from June 2020, according to monthly figures published Monday by the Greater Albuquerque Association of Realtors. Additionally, the mean sale price stood at $341,350, a 22% rise since last June.

A link to the full news story is here:

https://www.abqjournal.com/2409060/albuquerques-median-home-price-tops-300k-for-1st-time-ex-figure-is-exceeded-for-first-time-amid-low-inventory-mortgage-rates.html

SURPLUS SALE OF PROPERTY

The City of Albuquerque owns tracts of land and buildings that are sometimes no longer needed to satisfy a public purpose. These types of properties are known as “surplus properties.” Once the Real Property Division identifies a potential surplus property, it seeks to have it declared not-essential by the City Council. Not-essential properties are then marketed for sale in accordance with City Ordinance and are sold through a bidding process. The question that remains unanswered is why was the Rosenwald Building sold in a private sale and how could it be declared surplus property and not-essential when the city intend to have a police substation in the building?

https://www.cabq.gov/municipaldevelopment/city-real-estate-sales-services/surplus-city-properties-for-sale

It is the land-title ownership that matters the most. Once title transfers, the new property owners can do whatever they want with it, including building the proposed condos, renovate it for office space, or just hold on to it as a vacant building. The building owners can even seek to have the building declared substandard as to making it a danger for occupancy, have it torn down and build a high rise. Many a Downtown structure on Central have been torn down and are now dirt parking lots.

A question the City Council should have asked is if the real purpose of the APD lease is to provide police protection for a residential development? Another question the Council never asked is how successful has the Downtown Public Safety District located in the Alvarado Transportation center been and why does APD now need a 1,400 square foot office area in a condo building just a few blocks down from the Alvarado substation?

LEGISLATION NEEDED

In order to prevent this from ever happening again, the City Council needs to enact an ordinance that strictly prevents City Hall from ever selling historical buildings once bought by the city. The ordinance would mandate maintenance, repairs and remodeling as the need requires for city use.

Keller and the City Council have no clue of the importance of preserving a community’s history. Ostensibly they are ignorant of the teardowns of historic structures. First there was the Franciscan Hotel, then the Alvarado followed by the 1970s urban renewal that tore down many historical structures and residential areas and destroyed the Downtown area, making it a ghost town as the city grew to the Northeast Heights.

Simply put, the sale of the Rosenwald building should never have happened and was a dereliction of duty by Mayor Tim Keller and the City Council. The sale of a building on the National Register of Historic Places by the city is what you get with Keller, who is more interested in helping his reelection donors with no concern for the city’s history. The City Council failed miserably and was derelict in its oversight function to protect the city’s history.

A link to a related blog article is here:

Historic Rosenwald Building Purchased By City For $1.7 Million Sold By City For $350,000 In “Private Bid”; City Leases Space For APD Substation; Following The Money Leads To Mayor Tim Keller; Council Derelict In Selling Historic Building

Two Gonzales Measured Finance Committees Have Not Raised Enough For Competitive Race; Gonzales Must Fend For Himself And Raise At Least $500,000 To Be Competitive Without Public Finance

Under the City of Albuquerque’s campaign finance laws, a Measure Finance Committee is a political action committee (PAC), person or group that supports or opposes a candidate or ballot measure within the City of Albuquerque. Measure Finance Committees are required to register with the City Clerk within five (5) days once they have raised or spent more than $250 towards their purpose.

Measure finance committees are not bound by the individual contribution limits and business bans like candidates. No Measure Finance Committee is supposed to coordinate their activities with the individual candidates running for office, but this is a very gray area as to what constitutes coordination of activities and it is difficult to enforce.

According to City Clerk records, 3 measured finance committees have been formed for the 2021 municipal election. Two are measured finance committees raising money, promoting and spending money on behalf of Manny Gonzales, one promoting Mayor Tim Keller. and one promoting fire fighter union interests.

On July 12, the two measured finance committees for Manny Gonzales and the one measured finance committee for Tim Keller filed the fourth Campaign Finance Reports for the time period of June 6 to July 5. Following is a summary report on donations and expenditures for all 3 measured finance committees.

GONZALES MEASURED FINANCE COMMITTEES

The two measured finance committees promoting Manny Gonzales for Mayor are SAVE OUR CITY and RETIRED LAW ENFORCEMENT FOR A BETTER ALBUQUERQUE.

1. SAVE OUR CITY: $84,968.90 (Previous balance $58,774.17)

STATED PURPOSE: To address the serious crime and leadership problem in Albuquerque.

The Chairperson of “Save Our City” is Sam Vigil and the Treasurer is Republican State Representative Bill Rehm. Sam Vigil is the husband Jacquiline Vigil who was gun down in her car backing out of the family home driveway in the early morning hours as she was leaving for the gym. Republican New Mexico State Representative Bill Rehm, District 31, Bernalillo County, has been a State Representative since 2006. Rehm retired in 2000 from BCSO Sheriff’s office as Captain. Rehm is considered a reliable conservative supporter of law enforcement efforts in the New Mexico Legislature.

CASH BALANCE FROM LAST REPORT: $58, 774.17
TOTAL MONETARY CONTRIBUTIONS FOR PERIOD: $52,500.00
TOTAL EXPENDITURES FOR PERIOD: $26,305.27
CLOSING BALANCE: $84,968.90

MAJOR CASH DONORS DURING 4TH REPORTING PERIOD

$5,000 DONORS

DAVID CHAVEZ, LAW OFFICE OF DAVID C. CHAVEZ
ALFREDO CORTAZAR, CORTAZAR LABORATORIES, HEALTH CARE PRODUCTS
JIM FLOYD INTERNATIONAL PROTECTIVE SERVICE INC., SECURITY SERVICES

$2,500 CASH DONORS

JOE DEE DENNIS, RETIRED.
SGREG TEMPLETON, SOUTHERN GLAZER’S WINE AND SPIRITS, BUSINESS/GROUP INFO., ALCOHOL SALES.

$2,000 CASH DONORS

DION P MALOY AND MARY BETH, MALOY STORAGE FACILITIES
RICHARD LUNA, CHAMPION TRUSS, INC, CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRIES

$1,400 CASH DONORS

DALE AND GAIL ARMSTRONG,
DION P MALOY AND MARY BETH MALOY, MALOY STORAGE STORAGE FACILITIES

$1,000 CASH DONORS

ROY D BENSON, Automotive Industry MELLOY NISSAN
TY JUANA AND NEIL HISE 10, Real Estate Professional, SEMCO
KURSTIN JOHNSON Real Estate Professional VISTA ENCANTADA REALTORS, LLC
JOHN AND MARY MENICUCCI, Real Estate Professional, BERGER BRIGGS REAL ESTATE
JOHN THOMPSON, Business Owner SELF EMPLOYED
JOHN AND CINDY MECHENBIER REAL ESTATE, 5401 VENICE NE LLC
JIM B GUTHRIE, General Business SELF EMPLOYED
SERGIO BERMUDEZ, BERMUDEZ BROS LLC (PROPERTY MANAGEMENT ACCOUNT) PROPERTY MANAGEMENT

$700 CASH DONORS

MARK GARCIA 7463 SIDEWINDER DRIVE ALBUQUERQUE, NM 87113 OCCUPATION/EMPLOYER: Real Estate Professional SELF EMPLOYED ($750 donated)
AMELIA CREEL, General Business CREEL PROPERTIES
MICHAEL AND JANIE DANIELS, Real Estate Professional VISTA ENCANTADA REALTORS, LLC
PHILLIP HOUSER, General Business, SELF EMPLOYED
ELLA LEEPER Real Estate Professional CREEL PROPERTIES
MICHAEL LEACH Real Estate Professional SYCAMORE ASSOCIATES, LLC

$500 CASH DONORS

JERRY BECKER CLEANING SERVICES, STEAMATIC OF ALBUQUERQUE
JOHN AND JOAN CAMPBELL ($550 donated)
MARK TOBIASSEN, BUSINESS COACHING NM PURSUITS, INC, DBA ACTIONCOACH BUSINESS COACHING
JOE MENICUCCI, INSURANCE, DOWNEY & CO. BUSINESS/GROUP INFO:
DAVID OTOSKI, CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRIES, MOUNTAIN STATES CONSTRUCTORS, INC
ROSS PERKAL, PEBBLES RANCHITOS, GENERAL BUSINESS
DAN MOWREY, AWNING AND UPHOLSTERY SALES
ANDREW AND AGATHA SANCHEZ, SELF EMPLOYED
HENRY SMITH, Construction/Engineering MOUNTAIN STATES CONSTRUCTION
T J MALOY, WATER JET CUTTING WATER JET CUTTING SERVICES
MICHAEL WILLIAMS, Construction/Engineering BUILDER’S SOURCE
ROBERT GUSTIN, SELF EMPLOYED
PAUL GESNER TAX PREPARATION, ACCUTAX, LLC
JOSEPH LUJAN, Insurance Industry HUB INTERNATIONAL
CLAUDIA S SHORT, Financial/Investment RBC WEALTH MANAGEMENT
KENYON AND KAYLEE BURNS, General Business BURNS RESOURCE LLC
ERIC WRAGE, Construction/Engineering BOHANNAN HUSTON, INC

IN KIND DONATIONS

DION P MALOY AND MARY BETH MALOY, PAT MALOY STORAGE FACILITIES: $850
JIM TRUMP, De Anza: $850
JIMMY DASKALOS Real Estate Professional SELF EMPLOYED $500

MAJOR EXPENDITURES BY SAVE OUR CITY FOR FOURTH REPORTING PERIOD:

JAMES HALLINAN CAMPAIGN CONSULTING AND STRATEGIES, PURPLE STRATEGIES, LLC P.O. $20,000
JAMES HALLINAN CAMPAIGN CONSULTING AND STRATEGIES, PURPLE STRATEGIES, LLC P.O. $1,120.72

GABRIELLE RAEL, Office and Administrative Occupations: $2,000
GABRIELLE RAEL, Office and Administrative Occupations: $1,800.00

https://campaignfinance.cabq.gov/PublicSite/Reports/FetchReportToPDF.aspx

MAJOR CASH DONORS FROM THIRD FINANCE REPORT

$10,000 DONORS

JIMMY DASKALOS, Real Estate Professional
BEN SPENCER, Real Estate Professional

$5,000 DONORS

DOUG PETERSON, Peterson Properties
CLIFF BARBERI, Advanced Tower Services
LINDA FRESQUEZ, Fresquez Concessions, Inc.
GARY ARCHULETA, National Distributing Company

$2,500 DONORS

KENNETH WELCH, Boiler Repairs and Service: $2,500.
CAROL BROWN, Retired: $2,500

$2,000 DONORS

JOE CRUZ, Occupation/Employer: Star Paving Company
CHRISTOPHER PACHECO, Pluma Construction

$1,000 DONORS

MICHAEL MONTOYA, Big M Plumbing
SERGIO BERMUDEZ, El Mesquite Market
MARC POWELL, NM Dealer Support Services
MARC POWELL, Independent Auto Dealers

MAJOR EXPENDITURES FROM THIRD FINANCE REPORT

GABRIELLE RAEL for Fundraising and Administrative Support: $3,600
BOBBI SHEARER, Full Compliance Consulting: $2,840.68
GABRIELLE RAEL for Fundraising and Administrative Support: $2,840
GABRIELLE RAEL for Fundraising and Administrative Support: $1,600

The link to the third 2021 Campaign Finance Report for SAVE OUR CITY is here:

https://campaignfinance.cabq.gov/PublicSite/Reports/FetchReportToPDF.aspx

2. RETIRED LAW ENFORCEMENT FOR A BETTER ALBUQUERQUE: $10,550 Cash Balance

https://campaignfinance.cabq.gov/PublicSite/Reports/FetchReportToPDF.aspx

STATED PURPOSE: “Support Albuquerque mayoral candidate who will improve the quality of life for its citizens as well as oppose candidates that are detrimental to the future growth and safety of Albuquerque.”

The chairperson of the “Retired Law Enforcement for a Better Albuquerque is Jason Katz, a retired Chief Deputy of the Bernalillo County and the Treasurer is listed as Sistine Jaramillo. No background information could be located on Sistine Jaramillo.

CASH BALANCE FROM LAST REPORT: $10,550
TOTAL MONETARY CONTRIUTIONS FOR PERIOD: -0-
TOTAL EXPENDITURES FOR PERIOD: -0-
CLOSING BALANCE: $10,550

MAJOR DONORS

LORI HENZ, SELF EMPLOYED, Retail Sales: $5,000
DEBRA BRINKLEY, employed by City of Albuquerque: $5,000

MAJOR EXPENDITURES: None reported

The link to the fourth 2021 Campaign Finance Report for RETIRED LAW ENFORCEMENT FOR A BETTER ALBUQUERQUE is here:

https://campaignfinance.cabq.gov/PublicSite/Reports/FetchReportToPDF.aspx

KELLER MEASURED FINANCE COMMITTEE

As of April 26, one measured finance committees has been formed to support Mayor Tim Keller’s bid for a second 4 year term . The Measured finance committee is identified as “BUILD BACK ‘BURQUE”.

BUILD BACK ‘BURQUE”: $21,999.36 Cash Balance

STATED PURPOSE: “Support Mayor Tim Keller’s re-election to a second term for the city of Albuquerque”

The Chairperson for “Build Back ‘Burque” is Michelle Mayorga. According to the American Association of Political Consultants “Michelle Mayorga has spent nearly 2 decades working on campaigns, progressive issues, and in local and national administrations. She previously served as Western Field Director at the AFL-CIO, Western Political Director at the DCCC, and Coordinated Director for the Democratic Party of New Mexico in 2012.” The Treasurer for “Build Back ‘Burque” is Robert Lara. Mr. Lara is a licensed New Mexico attorney and is the former State Treasurer of the Democratic Party of New Mexico.

CASH BALANCE FROM LAST REPORT: $21,999.36
TOTAL MONETARY CONTRIBUTIONS FOR PERIOD: $9,235.00
TOTAL EXPENDITURES FOR PERIOD: $13,349.67
CLOSING BALANCE: $17,884

MAJOR CASH DONORS DURING 4TH REPORTING PERIOD

STEVEN CHAVEZ, Business Owner ICS, $5,000
ROBERT DURHAM, Not Currently Employed: $1,000
MARLA PAINTER, RETIRED: $1,000
SANDY BUFFETT, Lobbyist SELF ASSOCIATED: $950
JOHN HORNING, EMPLOYER: Environmental Services WILDEARTH GUARDIANS: $250
LESLIE ATLER, Retired: $100
KENNETH CARSON, Business Owner, NEXUS BREWER: $100
WESTLY WELLBORN, Business Owner WELLBORN & COMPANY LLC: $100

MAJOR EXPENDITURES BY SAVE OUR CITY FOR FOURTH REPORTING PERIOD

ROBERT LARA, self-employed Attorney: $2,400 (Mr. Lara is the Treasurer of the committee)
ELECTIONS IN MOTION, SEAN MARCUS POLITICAL CONSULTING : $2,696.
NEW BLUE INTERACTIVE, TARYN ROSENKRANZ DIGITAL POLITICAL FUNDRAISING: $1, 752
NEW BLUE INTERACTIVE, TARYN ROSENKRANZ DIGITAL POLITICAL FUNDRAISING: $6,000

The link to “Build Back Burque” Fourth finance report is here:

https://campaignfinance.cabq.gov/PublicSite/Reports/FetchReportToPDF.aspx

MAJOR CASH DONORS DURING THIRD REPORTING PERIOD

ED GARCIA, Garcia Automotive Group: $5,000
TOBY GARCIA, Garcia Automotive Group: $5,000
NEW MEXICO BUILDING TRADES: $5,000

ED GARCIA, Garcia Automotive Group: $2,500
TOBY GARCIA, Garcia Automotive Group:$2,500

JIM MADDOX, Maddox & Co Real Estate: $1,000
DOUG BROWN, Retired, Santa Fe: $500

MAJOR EXPENDITURES:

SQUARE INC., Credit Card Processing $439

The link to the Third 2021 Campaign Finance Report BUILD BACK ‘BURQUE is here:

https://campaignfinance.cabq.gov/PublicSite/Reports/FetchReportToPDF.aspx

https://campaignfinance.cabq.gov/PublicSite/SearchPages/OrganizationDetail.aspx?OrganizationID=7112

MANNY GONZALES DENIED PUBLIC FINANCING

In a letter dated July 9, Albuquerque City Clerk Ethan Watson notified Bernalillo County Sheriff Manuel Gonzales’ that the city was denying his campaign $661,00 in public financing citing misconduct in the qualifying process and forgery of signatures on $5 qualifying donations. City Clerk Watson wrote Gonzales he could not confirm that Gonzales had complied with the city’s Open and Ethical Election Code and associated regulations. Gonzales appealed the city clerk’s denial. An all-day hearing was held on July 15.

On Monday July 19, a city hearing officer issued a written ruling on Manny Gonzales’ appeal of the City Clerks denial of $661,000 in public finance. The city hearing officer found Manny Gonzales had failed to prove that City Clerk Ethan Watson had acted inappropriately in denying him $661,000 in public financing. The City Hearing officer specifically found that it was Gonzales’ responsibility to keep fraud and forgery out of the gathering of the qualifying donations.

Manny Gonzales has announced he will appeal the hearing officer’s decision to State District Court. It is likely that the case will also be appealed all the way to the New Mexico Supreme Court.

Notwithstanding the hearing officer’s ruling, Manny Gonzales has qualified to be on the ballot and will be allowed to private finance his campaign.

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

The 2 Measure Finance Committee’s supporting Manny Gonzales have raised an impressive $95,518.90 ($84,968.90 Save Our city + $10,550 Retired Law Enforcement For Better Albuquerque). The problem is that none of the money can be transferred to the Gonzales campaign.

Manny Gonzales efforts to secure public financing is becoming increasingly unlikely. Consequently, his only remaining option is to try and raise private financing for his campaign. Even though the two measured finance committees supporting Gonzales have raised a significant amount of money to promote Gonzales, it is strictly prohibited that the money can be transferred to his campaign.

Gonzales is now left to fend for himself and raise whatever he can in private financing. Political observers believe that Gonzales is now confronted with the task of at least raising $500,000 in private financing to be competitive against Keller’s $661,000 in public financing, not to mention the money that will be raised by the one Keller measured finance committee.

NOT OUT OF THE WOODS

What complicates everything for Manny Gonzales is that two ethics complaints are still pending before the Board of Ethics and Campaign Practices. The complaints allege widespread fraud and forgery. Gonzales’ campaign is accused of forging the names of registered voters to secure public financing or providing the $5.00 qualifying donations.

The first ethics complaint includes a written statement from a voter who said Gonzales told him he did not have to submit a $5 contribution and that his campaign would pay. Gonzales for his part adamantly denies the allegation.

The second ethics complaint alleges Gonzales’ campaign forged voter signatures on qualifying public finance receipts. The complaint cites disparities between signatures on $5 contribution receipts and the same voters’ signatures from other places, including on nominating petitions to get Gonzales’ name on the ballot.

The Keller campaign submitted to the City Clerk 140 examples of alleged forgeries on documents submitted to the City Clerk by the Gonzales campaign. The Keller campaign also filed signed statements from upwards of 40 people contacted by a private investigator hired by Keller campaign. Most of those contacted said the signatures on Gonzales’ nominating petition was theirs and half confirmed they had contributed $5 to Gonzales’ public financing effort. Nearly all said signatures on the $5 qualifying donations were forgeries.

The Gonzales campaign denied all wrongdoing and accused the city clerk of trying to “silence the political opposition.” The Gonzales campaign said that Gonzales submitted hundreds more $5 qualifying contributions than necessary to qualify for public financing, and the ethics complaints involve what it deemed a “small handful of alleged invalid” contributions.

In the event that Gonzales exhausts all of his appeals through the courts, and is awarded the $661,000 in public finance, the two pending ethics complaints must be resolved with a finding that there was no fraud. The Board of Ethics could still find that the Gonzales campaign violated the process by submitting fraudulent signatures and committed fraud in gathering the qualifying donations.

Should Manny Gonzales win the election and becomes Mayor, as provided by the election code, the Ethics Board may recommend to the Council that Gonzales be removed from office. The Council may, upon the recommendation of the Board, and after due hearing of the charge, order the suspension or his removal from office as mayor. However, he would have to be suspended or removed by two thirds vote of the city council.

Manny Gonzales is clearly at a crossroads.

Without sufficient financing to run an effective campaign, his only hope at this point may be a major event that will turn the electorate against Mayor Tim Keller.

City Hearing Officer Upholds City Clerk Denial Of Public Finance To Manny Gonzales; Substantive Changes And Overhaul To City’s Public Finance Law Long Overdue

In a letter dated July 9, Albuquerque City Clerk Ethan Watson notified Bernalillo County Sheriff Manuel Gonzales’ that the city was denying his campaign $661,00 in public financing citing misconduct in the qualifying process and forgery of signatures on $5 qualifying donations. City Clerk Watson wrote Gonzales he could not confirm that Gonzales had complied with the city’s Open and Ethical Election Code and associated regulations. Gonzales appealed the city clerk’s denial. An all-day hearing was held on July 15.

The Keller campaign submitted to the City Clerk alleged forgeries on documents submitted to the City Clerk. The Keller campaign also filed signed statements from people contacted by a private investigator hired by Keller campaign. Most of those contacted said the signatures on Gonzales’ nominating petition was theirs. Half confirmed they had contributed $5 to Gonzales’ public financing effort. Nearly all signatures on the $5 public finance receipts were not their legitimate signature.

What complicated things is that on June 18, City Clerk posted on the city web site it had reviewed and verified that Gonzales submitted more than the required 3,000 signatures and more than the 3,771 qualifying donations. At issue is whether the City Clerk had the authority to deny public financing after the City Clerk found and posted that enough $5 donations were submitted ostensibly without fraud nor forgeries.

Gonzales’ Attorney Carter Harrison during the appeal hearing confirmed that Gonzales campaign officials had submitted forged signatures on qualifying donation reciepts but argued that forgeries are standard in political campaigns and that the Gonzales was not responsible for them and that that Gonzales had enough support to qualify for public financing even when discounting the forgeries.

During the July 16 appeal hearing Sheriff Gonzales testified that he relied on campaign staff and played no role in ensuring the propriety of the manner in collecting the $5 qualifying donation documentations and testified:

“I have no supervision responsibility. … I’m the candidate. There’s volunteers and there’s paid staff and those people have their roles.”

Assistant City Attorney Matt Jackson, attorney for the city clerk’s office, had this to say:

“Most of those contributions of issue which he now admits to be fraudulent were collected by his campaign, not by some unknown, or unknowing volunteer, but by three of the individuals designated by the campaign.”

HEARING OFFICER UPHOLDS CITY CLERK DENIAL OF PUBLIC FINANCE

On Monday July 19, city hearing officer Ripley Harwood issued his written ruling on Manny Gonzales’ appeal of the City Clerks denial of $661,000 in public finance. Harwood found Manny Gonzales had failed to prove that Clerk Ethan Watson had acted inappropriately in denying him $661,000 in public financing. Harwood specifically found that it was Gonzales’ responsibility to keep fraud and forgery in the gathering of the qualifying donations.

In his ruling upholding the city clerk, Harwood wrote:

“I reject the argument that ‘this happens in every campaign.’ It should not happen in any campaign, and I reject the corollary notion that some level of fraud and falsification is tolerable or OK. … In my view, the Clerk has the right and the duty to deny participating candidate certification whenever fraud or falsification is discovered, without the need to first quantify it.”

“I endorse the view that it is the duty of candidates to manage and oversee their campaigns in a way that assures that fraud and falsifications do not occur. I would view this as a non-delegable duty even if (Gonzales) had not signed a document acknowledging responsibility for the acts of his key subordinates. … Failing to detect and eliminate a multitude of forged qualifying contribution forms bearing the signatures of his key subordinates constitutes failure to exercise ordinary care in the management of a campaign and meets the ‘knew or should have known’ standard of [ the “Open and Ethical Elections Code” regulations.]

Harwood found that a pivotal basis for the ruling was the “Salvation Army incident,” in which the sheriff reportedly told one donor that they did not have to pay the $5 contribution. Instead, he allegedly said he would pay for it.

“It is evidence of direct knowledge of fraud or falsification. … No persuasive evidence was adduced to suggest that the contributor attesting to his conversation with the sheriff had any motive to falsify what he claims was said.”

CITY CLERK’S RULES AND REGULATIONS ON PUBLIC FINANCE CERTIFICATION

At the very core of the hearing officer affirming the City Clerk’s denial of public finance to Manny Gonzales are the Rules and Regulations and that outline the certification process relating to the $5 qualifying donations for candidates. The regulation entitled “Certification of Participating Candidates for Public Financing” provides in part as follows:

“The City Clerk shall certify as a Participating Candidate, all Applicant Candidates who meet the requirements of the OEEC and submit an Application for Certification.

a. In addition to the criteria for certification listed … upon receipt of a final Qualifying Contribution report from an Applicant Candidate, the Clerk shall determine whether the Applicant Candidate has:

i. …

ii. been found to have made a materially false statement in a report or other document submitted to the City Clerk;

iii. …

iv. been found to have submitted any fraudulent Qualifying Contributions or any falsified acknowledgement forms for Qualifying Contributions or Seed Money Contributions, where the Applicant Candidate knew or should have known of the fraudulence or falsification.

b. If the Clerk makes any of the findings above, the Clerk shall not certify the Applicant Candidate as a Participating Candidate.”

Harwood’s written ruling highlighted the Gonzales campaign’s admission that it submitted forged signatures on receipts in the public financing qualifying process. He also rejected outright the Gonzalez campaign’s argument that such incidents are standard.

Gonzales’ Attorney Carter Harrison confirmed that the campaign submitted forged signatures but argued during at the hearing that forgeries are standard in campaigns, that Gonzales was not responsible for them. He also argued that Gonzales had enough support to qualify for public financing even when discounting the forgeries on the qualifying donations.

Gonzales has the right to appeal Harwood’s decision to State District Court. It is likely that the case will also be appealed all the way to the New Mexico Supreme Court.

Notwithstanding the adverse ruling, Manny Gonzales has qualified to be on the ballot and will be allowed to private finance his campaign.

Links to quoted news source material are here:

https://www.koat.com/article/manny-gonzales-appeal-denied-sheriff-will-not-get-public-financing-for-his-run-for-mayor/37068849

https://www.kob.com/albuquerque-news/albuquerques-city-hearing-officer-denies-sheriff-gonzales-appeal-for-public-financing/6176648/?cat=500

https://www.abqjournal.com/2411125/gonzales-public-financing-appeal-denied-by-hearing-officer.html

https://www.krqe.com/news/albuquerque-metro/albuquerque-hearing-officer-denies-manny-gonzales-appeal-for-public-financing/

CAMPAIGN AND ELECTION AUDITOR

The city election code as contained in the City Charter and enacted by a public vote provides for the appointment by the Board of Ethics and Campaign Practices a “Campaign and Election Auditor”.

Article XIII, Section 9 (b) of the election code provides in part as follows:

There is hereby created the position of Campaign and Election Auditor. The Auditor shall be either a Certified Public Accountant or a Registered Public Accountant and shall:

1. Be retained by the Board as an independent contractor to serve from the established date of filing of the Declaration of Candidacy for each election until ninety days following the specified final date set forth for filing of the final statement on disclosure of campaign financing; provided, that the Board in its discretion may retain the services of the Auditor at other times including elections in which only measures are to be placed on the ballot.

2. Monitor all disclosure statements to examine the accuracy and compliance by the person filing such statements with the provisions of this Election Code and with any Rules and Regulations promulgated by the Board, and provide such other services as may be required by the Board.

3. At the direction of the Board, be available to assist candidates and Measure Finance Committees in connection with this Election Code and with any Rules and Regulations promulgated by the Board, and provide such other services as may be required by the Board.

Article XIII Section 10 provides for enforcement:


(c) Upon referral of any complaint by the [Ethics Board], the Campaign and Election Auditor shall investigate the charge or charges and report to the Board.

(e) Should the Board find, after due hearing, that a violation of this Election Code or the Rules and Regulations of the Board has occurred, it may, for each violation, issue a public reprimand or impose a fine not to exceed the maximum amount authorized by state law, or do both.

(f) …

(g) In addition to imposing such sanctions, or as an alternative thereto, and if the violator be a successful candidate in the election, the Board may recommend to the Council that the violator be removed from office.

(h) The Council may, upon the recommendation of the Board, and after due hearing of the charge, order the suspension or removal of an elected official; provided, however, that no official shall be removed or suspended except upon the concurrence of two-thirds of the Councillors qualified to vote thereon.

The link to the election code provisions is here:

https://www.cabq.gov/clerk/documents/ARTICLEXIII.pdf

PRIOR CITY TASK FORCE FAILED TO ADDRESS SUBSTANTIVE CHANGES TO PUBLC FINANCE LAWS

In 2019, the city council convened a task force to overhaul Albuquerque’s public fiancé laws. The task force failed to advocate meaningful changes to our public finance laws in order to make making it easier for candidates to qualify for public finance. Changes rejected included expanding the time period to collect the $5 candidate qualifying donations and the number required. Albuquerque City Councillor Diane Gibson served on the task force that was supposed to come up with major changes to our public finance ordinance. Gibson actually said “it’s supposed to be hard to qualify” and said it keeps out people “who are not serious candidates”, as if she should be the one deciding who are serious candidates seeing as many of her constitutes could not take her serious for 8 years as she droned on during city council meetings. The only change agreed to was increasing the amount of public financing money candidates are given and not the process of collecting the donations to qualify and not expanding the time to collect qualifying donations. Simply put, the lack of changes to the public finance laws favors incumbents.

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

The current back-and-forth exchanges of fraud, forgeries, complaints and unethical conduct over public finance between the two candidates for Mayor has highlighted the biggest deficiencies in the city’s public finance system. The purpose and intent of the city’s public finance ordinance has been severely warped with the advent of measured finance committees. Candidates play the disingenuous game of seeking public finance while their supporters form committees to raise unlimited amounts of money to trash the opponent.

MISPLACED PROPOSAL

The proposal that the Albuquerque Inspector General should take over verification of public finance donations is misplaced at best or a reflection of ignorance of the City Charter election code. The city election code already has the above cited provisions for a campaign election auditor wherein the Board of Ethics can take action.

EVEN IF GONZALES PREVAILS IN COURT ON GETS PUBLIC FINANCING AND ELECTE MAYOR, BOARD OF ETHICS COULD RECOMMEND REMOVAL AS MAYOR

What complicates everything for Manny Gonzales is that two ethics complaints are still pending before the Board of Ethics and Campaign Practices. The complaints allege widespread fraud and forgery. Gonzales’ campaign is accused of forging the names of more than 140 registered voters to secure public financing or providing the $5.00 qualifying donations.

The first ethics complaint includes a written statement from a voter who said Gonzales told him he did not have to submit a $5 contribution and that his campaign would pay. Gonzales for his part adamantly denies the allegation.

The second ethics complaint alleges Gonzales’ campaign forged voter signatures on qualifying public finance receipts. The complaint cites disparities between signatures on $5 contribution receipts and the same voters’ signatures from other places, including on nominating petitions to get Gonzales’ name on the ballot.

The Keller campaign submitted to the City Clerk 149 examples of alleged forgeries on documents submitted to the City Clerk by the Gonzales campaign. The Keller campaign also filed signed statements from upwards of 40 people contacted by a private investigator hired by Keller campaign. Most of those contacted said the signatures on Gonzales’ nominating petition was theirs and half confirmed they had contributed $5 to Gonzales’ public financing effort. Nearly all said signatures on the $5 qualifying donations were forgeries.

The Gonzales campaign denied all wrongdoing and accused the city clerk of trying to “silence the political opposition.” The Gonzales campaign said that Gonzales submitted hundreds more $5 qualifying contributions than necessary to qualify for public financing, and the ethics complaints involve what it deemed a “small handful of alleged invalid” contributions.

In the event that Gonzales exhausts all of his appeals through the courts, and is awarded the $661,000 in public finance, the two pending ethics complaints must be resolved to his benefit. The Board of Ethics could still find that the Gonzales campaign violated the process by submitting fraudulent signatures and committed fraud in gathering the qualifying donations.

In event Gonzales wins the election and becomes Mayor, as provided by the election code, the Board may recommend to the Council that Gonzales be removed from office. The Council may, upon the recommendation of the Board, and after due hearing of the charge, order the suspension or his removal from office as mayor However, he would have to be suspended or removed by a two thirds vote of the city council.

The link to the election code is here:

https://www.cabq.gov/clerk/documents/ARTICLEXIII.pdf

PROPOSED CHANGES TO PUBLIC FINANCE AND BOARD OF ETHICS AND CAMPAIGN PRACTICES

The deficiencies in the city’s public financing have been repeatedly warned about by reformers over the last 10 years but have been ignored. The system has been set up for failure, that is why so few candidates for Mayor have failed to qualify. Some of the changes advocated by reformers for the last 10 years is reducing the number of qualifying donations to a more realistic number as well as increasing the time to collect the qualifying donations. Simply put, public finance laws should not be set up to make it too difficult to qualify for public financing and should have sufficient safeguards to police and prevent fraud.

Following are recommendations for changes to the City’s public finance and election laws that are in order:

1. Allow four (4) months and two (2) weeks, from January 1 to May 15, to collected both the qualifying donations and petition signatures, and private campaign donation collection.

2. Allow the collection of the qualifying donations from anyone who wants, and not just residents or registered voters of Albuquerque. Privately finance candidates now can collect donations from anyone they want and anywhere in the State and Country.

3. A public finance candidate who fails to secure the requisite nominating petition signatures, but secures the requisite $5 qualifying donations would be disqualified from the public financing.

4. Once the allowed number of qualifying donations is collected, the public financing would be made immediately available, but not allowed to be spent until starting May 15.

5. Permit campaign spending for both publicly financed and privately financed candidates only from May 15 to the October election day.

6. Return to candidates for their use in their campaign any qualifying donations the candidate has collected when the candidate fails to secure the required number of qualifying donations to get the public financing.

7. Mandate the City Clerk to issue debit card or credit card collection devices to collect the qualifying donations and to issue receipts and eliminate the mandatory use of “paper receipts”.

8. Increase from $1.00 to $2.50 per registered voter the amount of public financing, which will be approximately $900,000, and allow for incremental increases of 10% every election cycle keeping up with inflation.

9. Allow for additional matching public financing available for run offs at the rate of $1.25 per registered voter, or $450,000.

10. Albuquerque should make every effort to make municipal elections partisan elections to be held along with State and Federal elections by seeking a constitutional amendment from the legislature to be voted upon by the public.

11. Any money raised and spent by measured finance committees on behalf a candidate should be required to first be applied to reimburse the City for any taxpayer money advanced to a public finance candidate or deducted from a publicly financed candidates account and returned to the city.

12. City of Albuquerque campaign reporting and finance ordinances and regulations need to define with absolute clarity that strictly prohibit the coordination of expenditures and campaign activities with measured finance committees and individual candidate’s campaigns in municipal elections.

13. A mandatory schedule of fines and penalties for violations of the code of ethics and campaign practices act should be enacted by the City Council.

CONCLUSION

Every effort should be made to make Albuquerque’s public financing laws for municipal elections to legally provide for a “dollar for dollar” match to privately raised funds by candidates, thereby providing a real level playing field.

The influence of big money in elections allowed by the US Supreme Court decision in Citizens United is destroying our democracy. Many highly qualified candidates for office all too often do not bother to run because of the inability or difficulty raising the necessary money to run.

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 outcome of an election.

A link to a related blog article is here:

2018 YEAR TO REFORM CITY PUBLIC CAMPAIGN FINANCE LAWS

Make Qualifying For Public Finance Easier, Regulate Measured Finance Commitees Or Risk Having Another $1.3 Million Race For Mayor

ABQ’s Mayor Race Turns Into Race To The Courthouse Between Two Ethically Challenged Candidates; Both Losing Credibility With Voters

The race to become Albuquerque Mayor is becoming back-and-forth exchange of allegations of fraud, forgeries and complaints over campaign finances between the two candidates for Mayor who are both ethically challenged. At stake is between $661,000 and $1,322,000 in public fiancé and taxpayer money. A review of all the pending ethics complaints and legal matters is in order.

TWO KELLER ETHICS COMPLAINTS AGAINST GONZALES

The Keller for Mayor campaign has filed two ethics complaints. They allege widespread fraud and forgery. Gonzales’ campaign is accused of forging the names of more than 140 registered voters to secure public financing or providing the .$5.00 qualifying donations.

The first ethics complaint includes a written statement from a voter who said Gonzales told him he did not have to submit a $5 contribution and that his campaign would pay. Gonzales for his part adamantly denies the allegation.

The second ethics complaint alleges Gonzales’ campaign forged voter signatures on qualifying public finance receipts. The complaint cites disparities between signatures on $5 contribution receipts and the same voters’ signatures from other places, including on nominating petitions to get Gonzales’ name on the ballot.

The Keller campaign submitted to the City Clerk 149 examples of alleged forgeries on documents submitted to the City Clerk by the Gonzales campaign. The Keller campaign also filed signed statements from upwards of 40 people contacted by a private investigator hired by Keller campaign. Most of those contacted said the signatures on Gonzales’ nominating petition was theirs and half confirmed they had contributed $5 to Gonzales’ public financing effort. Nearly all said signatures on the $5 qualifying donations were forgeries.

The Gonzales campaign denied all wrongdoing and accused the city clerk of trying to “silence the political opposition. ” The Gonzales campaign said that Gonzales submitted hundreds more $5 qualifying contributions than necessary to qualify for public financing, and the ethics complaints involve what it deemed a “small handful of alleged invalid” contributions.

The links to quoted news source material are here:

https://www.abqjournal.com/2407951/gonzales-bid-for-public-financing-denied.html

https://www.kob.com/new-mexico-news/city-clerk-blocks-manny-gonzales-bid-for-public-financing-following-fraud-forgery-claims/6166686/?cat=500

https://www.koat.com/article/sheriff-manny-gonzales-denied-campaign-financing-for-mayor/36986156

On Friday, June 16, the city of Albuquerque’s Board of Ethics and Campaign Practices voted to delay an evidentiary hearing on the first of the two ethics complaints lodged against Gonzales’ campaign, pending the results of an Office of Inspector General investigation the board ordered.

CITY CLERK UNILATERALLY DENIES GONZALES PUBLIC FINANCING

In a letter dated July 9, Albuquerque City Clerk Ethan Watson notified Bernalillo County Sheriff Manuel Gonzales’ that the city was denying his campaign $661,00 in public financing for his mayoral campaign. The City Clerk cited questions about potential misconduct in the qualifying process and told Gonzales he could not confirm that Gonzales had complied with the city’s Open and Ethical Election Code and associated regulations. The Clerk also noted the 2 ethics complaints Mayor Tim Keller’s reelection campaign filed against Gonzales.

City Clerk Watson wrote in the letter to Gonzales:

“The Office of the City Clerk has not reached this decision based on the mere fact that complaints were filed. … The decision instead is based on the conclusion that the evidence submitted to date prevents the Office from certifying that you are entitled to receive $661,309.25 from the Open and Ethical Elections Fund. The Office of the City Clerk cannot provide that certification on the record as it stands today because of the obligation all officials have to safeguard public funds.”

The Gonzales’ for Mayor campaign was quick to respond by alleging that City Clerk Watson was “coerced” by Mayor Tim Keller to deny the public financing. The Gonzales campaign said in a statement:

“For Tim Keller’s handpicked city clerk to deny our campaign public financing after citizens submitted more than enough qualifying contributions demonstrates a stunning level of arrogance and contempt for the voters of Albuquerque.”

APPEAL HEARING ON CLERK’S UNILATERAL DENIAL OF PUBLIC FINANCING TO GONZALES

On Monday, July 12, Manny Gonzales filed an appeal of the Albuquerque city clerk’s decision to deny him public financing for his mayoral campaign. The appeal was assigned to a city hearing officer for a hearing on the merits.

On Thursday July 15, the hearing was held by video conference hearing with the hearing lasting seven hours. Upwards of 100 people viewed the proceeding presided over by City Hearing Officer Ripley Harwood who appeared dressed in a T-shirt from a boatyard in the state of Main.

At the center of the clerk’s denying public finance is a regulatory provision that prevents the city clerk from certifying a candidate for public financing who have been found to have submitted fraudulent or falsified qualifying contributions that the candidate “knew or should have known about”. Gonzales’ denied the allegation he was directly involved with the forgeries, said he was unaware of the forgeries until the city clerk notified him but Gonzales acknowledged that the forgery claims were likely true.

Gonzales’ attorney Carter B. Harrison IV argued that City Clerk Ethan Watson acted improperly by unilaterally denying Manny Gonzales the public financing he had qualified for by gathering the required number of $5.00 donations. Harrison argued City Clerk Watson failed to ask the sheriff to respond to the allegations before making his decision to deny public finance and that Watson is not impartial because he was appointed City Clerk by Mayor Keller and if Keller loses to Gonzales, Watson will also be out of a job. It was also argued that Watson made no specific findings as required by the rules and regulations to deny certification making the denial defective.

Sheriff Gonzales for his part testified that he relied on campaign staff and played no role in ensuring the propriety of the manner in collecting the $5 qualifying donation documentations and testified:

“I have no supervision responsibility. … I’m the candidate. There’s volunteers and there’s paid staff and those people have their roles.”

During his testimony, City Clerk Ethan Watson cited documents provided with two ethics complaints Mayor Tim Keller’s reelection campaign filed against Gonzales. Those complaints alleged fraud by the Sheriff Gonzales personally and also forgery of signatures by campaign representatives during the public financing qualifying process.

Under cross examination, Watson admitted he did not contact any potential witnesses to corroborate the allegations fraud that were being made believing his own personal review and comparing signatures revealed forgery. The evidence included a signed statement from one of the voters involved and numerous examples of potential forgeries.

On June 18, the City Clerk office posted on the city web site it had reviewed and verified that Gonzales submitted more than the required 3,000 signatures and more than the 3,771 qualifying donations. At issue is whether the City Clerk has the authority to deny public financing after the City Clerk found and posted that enough $5 donations were submitted ostensibly without fraud nor forgeries and before there is a decision made by the City Board of Elections and Campaign Practices as to any fraud.

During the appeal hearing, Gonzalez’s lawyer Harrison acknowledged that some of the signatures for the $5 qualifying donations appear to be forged, but if the City Clerk threw out the forged signatures, Gonzalez would still have enough $5 qualifying contributions.

Attorney Harrison argued forcefully that withholding the public finance would disenfranchise the 3,771 contributors who did in fact make the donations and that were certified by the clerk’s office. Harrison told the hearing officer:

“The fact is the voters still overwhelmingly made the decision to give Sheriff Gonzales public financing and that shouldn’t be undone by … an unelected bureaucrat who is appointed by the sheriff’s opponent.”

Harrison also got combative with City Clerk and asked him:

“You understand why the public, who is who we’re concerned with here under our democratic system, would care about what Manny Gonzales – the guy who’s going to be the office-holder – does and not what his designated representative does? You can see why that would be the line, right?”

City Clerk Watson responded to the question:

“No, I think the public would care about how he manages his agents.”

After seven hours of back and forth between the parties, the hearing officer gave both sides have until the end of the day of Friday, July 16 to submit closing written arguments. The hearing officer has three business days to make a decision or July 20. If either side is unhappy, they can file an appeal in district court.

OBSCENE DISRUPTION AND BREACH OF JUDICIAL DECORUM

The video conference call was disrupted at least 3 times by people who were supposed to be only observers but were hell bent on disrupting the process. Once was when a flying drone with about a 12-inch dildo hanging from it appeared on the screen while the Sheriff was testifying and he was taunted. Another time was when a man appeared on the entire screen interfering with the hearing. A third time was when an unsolicited string of questions from a viewer broke into the testimony of Sheriff Gonzales interrupting people’s train of thought.

The links to related news coverage are here:

https://www.koat.com/article/mayoral-candidate-and-bcso-sheriff-manny-gonzalez-appeals-city-clerks-decision-denying-him-public-funding/37041539

https://www.abqjournal.com/2410067/gonzales-team-argues-clerk-acted-improperly.html

ETHICS COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST KELLER CAMPAIGN

On July 15, an ethics complaint was filed alleging that the president of the city firefighters’ union fraudulently helped Mayor Tim Keller qualify for public campaign financing. Included in the complaint is an affidavit signed by Albuquerque firefighter Shawn McDonald contending the union leader asked firefighters to sign $5 donation cards on Keller’s behalf and that he told them that he’d cover the required $5 donation. These are identical allegations filed in a complaint against Manny Gonzales.

The complaint against the Keller campaign was filed by Jason Katz who is the chairman of the Retired Law Enforcement Officers Measure Finance Committee which is promoting Gonzales for Mayor. Katz had this to say in a news release:

“As a retired law enforcement officer, I know it is incumbent to everyone that the law has to be applied to everyone equally. Not doing so destroys the entire system. In a time when the political system seems to be one of the least trusted institutions around, we need to make sure the rules and laws are applied evenly regardless of affiliation.”

“The City Clerk must maintain consistency and apply his recently applied reasoning to the Keller campaign. In addition to the new credible and fraudulent revelations, Mayor Keller and his campaign have a history of this behavior when the City Ethics Board ruled unanimously that he violated the City Charter’s Open and Ethical Elections Code when he ran for mayor in 2017. If the City Clerk is to remain fair and impartial, he needs to apply the same reasoning to revoke the Keller campaign of its public funding as he did to Sheriff Gonzales.”

“The firefighter spoke up and told everyone at the meeting that ‘You’re not allowed to do that.’ As a result of this fraud perpetrated by a City of Albuquerque employee and union boss working for Tim Keller’s campaign on City time, soliciting other city employees on City time and property, the Retired Law Enforcement Officers PAC has filed a formal complaint against Tim Keller’s campaign. The complaint requests that Tim Keller appointee Ethan Watson, the City Clerk, revoke Tim Keller’s public financing for the same reasoning he used to revoke Sheriff Gonzales’ public financing.”

According to the “Declaration of Shawn McDonald” and filed with the Katz’s ethics complaint, on June 1 McDonald’s fire station received a visit from the Justin Cheney the President of the Albuquerque Area Firefighters Local 244. The affidavit alleges that firefighters were asked by the Fire Union President Cheney to sign Keller’s $5 donation receipts.

When Cheney was asked about making the $5 donations by a firefighter, Cheney allegedly told the firefighters:

“I got that. Don’t worry about it. It’s too hard for me to go around and ask people to sign this and donate the five dollars. I only have three books. It’s a hundred and fifty bucks, and I am going to cover it for all the guys who want to sign it.”

McDonald claims he spoke up and said “You’re not allowed to do that.” According to the affidavit, the room went silent and then the members continued to review the donation cards.

The link to the complaint and the affidavit is here:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1HonRN_X1Q1o2bvAA-VPSSoN3IyinB2ef/view

Keller campaign manager Neri Holguin called the ethics complaint “a stunt” and said:

“It’s theatrics. … There’s no equivalency between the widespread fraud and admitted forgery by Manny Gonzales’ campaign and our campaign. There’s no evidence and there’s no merit to it.”

Links to related news sources are here:

https://www.kob.com/albuquerque-news/complaint-filed-against-keller-campaign-alleges-violations/6172286/?cat=500

https://www.abqjournal.com/2409910/gonzales-supporters-allege-fraud-in-kellers-bid-for-public-financing.html

https://www.abqreport.com/single-post/keller-campaign-accused-of-fraud

GONZALES FILES FINANCING LAWSUIT AGAINST KELLER CAMPAIGN

On Thursday, July 15, Manny Gonzales along with 3 of his supporters filed in state District Court a lawsuit seeking certification as a class action representing all voters who made $5 qualifying contributions to help the sheriff in his application for over $661,000 in taxpayer money.

The civil complaint makes identical arguments and allegations presented during the July 15 administrative appeal hearing over Clerk Ethan Watson’s rejection of Gonzales’ public financing application. The suit contends Manny Gonzales had sufficient voter support to qualify for public financing, even when the forged paperwork is excluded.

The civil complaint alleges in part:

“In any large-scale [qualifying donation] or signature-collection operation, it unfortunately sometimes happens that a small number of overzealous or dumb campaign workers take it upon themselves to cut unacceptable corners by forging names … The Court must intercede to prevent this election from being taken from the voters, in plain view of the voters.”

Gonzales’ attorney, Carter B. Harrison IV, argued in the June 15 hearing that City Clerk Watson denied Gonzales due process of law saying as a Keller appointee, Watson is not neutral. He also said Watson did not ask Gonzales to address the evidence before he rendered his decision to deny public financing and failed to make appropriate findings in support of his denying Gonzales public financing.

https://www.abqjournal.com/2410307/gonzales-supporters-file-financing-suit.html

ETHICALLY CHALLENGE KELLER

Four years ago when then New Mexico State Auditor Tim Keller ran his successful campaign for Mayor, he was the only candidate out of 8 candidates to qualify for public fiancé. Keller had two separate ethics charges filed against him.

One complaint filed against Tim Keller’s campaign involved the allegation that “cash donations” for political consulting were reported as “in-kind” donations. The Election Board of Ethics and Campaign Practices ruled that the cash contributions were in fact an ethical violation. Ultimately, Keller was found guilty by a unanimous vote of the City Board of Ethics. Rules and Regulations and he was not penalized before or after the complaint was formally heard.

A link to a related news article is here:

“Ethics board: Keller violated rule with ‘in-kind’ donations, NM Political Report, November 13, 2017”

https://nmpoliticalreport.com/2017/11/13/ethics-board-keller-violated-rule-with-in-kind-donations

A second more serious complaint file in 2017 against the Keller campaign was that the Keller Campaign for Mayor committee was coordinating their campaign and expenditures with ABQ Forward Together. Neri Holguin, Keller’s 2021 campaign manager was the chairperson “ABQ Forward Together”, the progressive measured finance committee that was formed specifically to raise money to promote progressive Tim Keller for Mayor in 2017. “ABQ Forward Together” raised over $663,000 for Keller’s 2017 bid for Mayor as Keller qualified for public financing and given $340,000 for his 2017 campaign for Mayor.

On June 7, 2021 it was reported the City Council voted to approve the sale of the historic Rosenwald Building for $360,000 in a “private bid” to build condos. The sale of the building was negotiated by the Keller Administration and presented to the council for approval at the request of Mayor Tim Keller. In 2009, the city had purchased the historic 42,000-square-foot building for $1.7 million. The city sold the Rosenwald Building to someone who made a $50,000 donation to Mayor Keller’s charitable foundation and $15,000 in donations to the measured finance committee promoting Keller for a second term. The sale also includes a 14-year lease by the city of 1,100 square feet for an APD police substation.

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

MAKING A MOCKERY OF THE PROCESS

It is extremely difficult to take the city’s “quasi-judicial” hearing on the Gonzales appeal seriously when the hearing officer announces that he is conducting the hearing, dressed in a T-shirt, from a boatyard in the state of Main. The hearing officer also admitted he had not reviewed all the documents submitted before the hearing.

Making a total mockery of the entire hearing was when the hearing officer was unable to do anything when a flying drone with about a 12-inch dildo hanging from it appeared on the video conference screen and then an unsolicited string of questions from a viewer breaks into the testimony of an elected official.

If the city wants city hearing officers to command respect and be taken seriously by the general public, the City Attorney and the CAO need to have a talk with all the hearing officers about judicial decorum.

BOTH CANDIDATES ULTIMATELY LOOSE

The back-and-forth exchange between the two candidates for Mayor who are both ethically challenged over campaign finances is pathetic as it gets. Ultimately, it’s the voter’s confidence that will be destroyed in a public finance system as well as between $661,000 to $1,322,000 to be used to trash each other.

Mayor Keller is a former State Auditor that claims he fought “waste, fraud and abuse” yet was found to have violated the ethics campaign rules 4 years ago and signs off on a highly questionable sale of city property to supporters of his re-election campaign.

Manny Gonzales is a career law enforcement officer who knows forgery is a 4th degree felony with his campaign admitting they have relied on forgeries with the Sheriff proclaiming he was not responsible for his campaign volunteers conduct, yet he designated them with authority to interact with the City Clerk’s office.

The election will proceed and there will be only one winner. It is more likely than not that after the type of campaigns Tim Keller and Manny Gonzales are running against each other their reputations will be so tarnished as to end their political careers, which is a good thing considering their lack of ethics.

Revised Recreational Cannabis Regulations Increase Production Limits; Legalization Of Cannabis On Federal Level Introduced in U.S. Senate

Effective June 29, New Mexico became the 17th state to legalize recreational cannabis for adult users. The new law allows possession of up to 2 ounces of cannabis or equivalent amounts of cannabis extract.

Personal production of no more than 6 mature plants per adult is also now permitted. The new law also allows for the production of recreational cannabis under strict licensing by the state Cannabis Control Division of the New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department (RLD)

PRODUCTION LICENSING DEADLINES

On June 29, 2021, the licensing of medical cannabis manufacturing transferred from the New Mexico Department of Health over to the RLD.

The new state law mandates deadlines for producer licenses to be issued beginning no later than September 1, 2021.

No later than January 1, 2022 all other licenses, including testing, distributing, selling, server permits and consumption hosting are to be issued.
No later than January 1, 2022, the state must begin training and education programs.
No later than April 1, 2022 all adult-use purchasing is to be allowed.

PROPOSED RULES

On Tuesday, May 26, it was reported that the first proposed rules dealing primarily with marijuana producer license and plant fees were released. The link to the regulations is here:

ccd.rld.state.nm.us

The first proposed rules deal with marijuana producer license and plant fees. The drafted rules if adopted will set the cost of both producer and retailer licenses at $2,500 annually. Licenses for cannabis consumption areas, or designated places where adults can smoke, eat or drink cannabis products, would cost $2,500 annually under the draft rule.

The proposed rules call for a 3-tier system for cannabis producer plant limits with a maximum of 4,500 mature plants. Larger-scale producers would be charged higher per-plant fees than smaller producers.

Plant count limits have been the source of controversy with the States “medical marijuana” program with the current limit for licensed medical producers set at 1,750 plants. The 1,750 limit somewhat arbitrary as an attempt to avoid flooding the market with product.

Depending on the pace of adopting new rules for recreational cannabis industry and court challenges that may slow down the process, recreational cannabis sales could start before an April 2022 deadline in the law enacted.

LICENSING FEES

On June 29, the first of several public-rule hearings by the New Mexico Licensing Department took place. The public hearing focused on the general licensing requirements for cannabis producers.
Robert Sachs, deputy director of policy for the RLD Cannabis Control Division (CCD), presented application requirements and proposed annual licensing fees for various types of licenses in the cannabis industry.

The proposed annual fee for a courier license is $250, and $100 for each additional license.
For testing laboratories, manufacturers, producers, retailers, and research laboratories, the proposed annual license fee is $2,500, and $1,000 for each additional license.

For a vertically integrated cannabis establishment that contains any number of roles within a single company, the proposed annual license fee is $7,500, and $1,000 for each additional license.

A cannabis producer microbusiness license fee is $500 a year for 100 plants or less, and $1,000 for 101-200 plants. An integrated cannabis microbusiness could see an annual license fee of $1,000-$2,500, depending on specific business activities.

A cannabis consumption area license fee is $2,500 per year.

The link to quoted source material is here:

https://www.scdailypress.com/2021/07/07/state-agencies-prepare-public-new-recreational-cannabis-industry/

https://www.scdailypress.com/2021/07/07/state-agencies-prepare-public-new-recreational-cannabis-industry/

REVISED PROPOSED PRODUCER LICENSING RULES

On Thursday, July 8, revised proposed producer licensing rules were unveiled containing significant changes to the original rules. Two major changes were revealed:

1. Significantly increasing the number of weed plants licensed cannabis producers can grow from a maximum of 4,500 mature plants to a maximum of 8,000 such plants.

2. Large scale producers would face the same per plant fees as smaller producers. The previous proposed rules had higher fees for bigger producers.

Under New Mexico’s medical cannabis program, the current limit for licensed producers set at 1,750.

Purlife Medical Cannabis has eight medical cannabis dispensaries around New Mexico and it intends to expand into the recreational cannabis industry. Indy White, the director of sales for PurLife, described the higher plant limits for recreational cannabis as more reasonable and had this to say:

“With that number of plants, there’s a lot more variety in how you can cultivate.”

White also said many cannabis producers focus on large plants that take longer to grow and are more vulnerable to pests.

The new rules also include a proposed requirement that producers seeking licenses include in their application a “social and economic equity plan” aimed at encouraging racial, gender and age diversity within the cannabis industry workforce.

MARKET STUDY ON CONSUMPTION

The proposed rule changes increasing the number of plants was based on a market study on the demand for cannabis in the states of Colorado, Washington and Vermont that have legalized recreational marijuana. The survey also included more than 1,000 New Mexico residents. Of those surveyed, more than 20% said they had used cannabis in the last month.

Relying on the market study and the survey, a Massachusetts-based Cannabis Public Policy Consulting report concluded that between 2,007 to 3,756 plants per producer for each harvest cycle will be required to meet New Mexico cannabis demand during the first year of legalization.

The link to quoted source material is here:

https://www.abqjournal.com/2407688/nm-agency-revises-proposed-pot-limits.html

PUBLIC HEARING SCHEDULED

A public hearing on the revised New Mexico cannabis rules is scheduled for August 6 at the New Mexico State Capitol, Room 307, beginning at 9 a.m. The meeting is open to the public who can attend in person or by remote link ccd.rld.state.nm.us

LEGISLATION TO DECRIMINALIZE CANNABIS ON FEDERAL LEVEL INTRODUCED IN US SENATE

The Washington Post reported that on July 14 Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) introduced legislation to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level. The draft bill is co-sponsored by Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Ron Wyden (D-Oregon and would remove federal penalties associated with cannabis, expunge nonviolent federal cannabis-related criminal records and begin regulating and taxing the drug. Schumer had this to say:

“This is monumental, because, at long last, we are taking steps in the Senate to right the wrongs of the failed war on drugs. … For decades, young men and young women, disproportionately young Black and Hispanic men and women, have been arrested and jailed for carrying even a small amount of marijuana in their pocket, a charge that often came with exorbitant penalties and a serious criminal record because of the overcriminalization of marijuana, and it followed them for the remainder of their lives.”

Democrat Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey spoke about the importance of expunging records because of the effects they have on the lives of those who have been convicted of violating marijuana drug laws and had this to say:

“And the hypocrisy of this is that, right here in the Capitol now, people running for Congress, people running for Senate, people running for president of the United States readily admit that they’ve used marijuana. … But we have children in this country, people all over this nation — our veterans, Black and Brown people, low-income people — now bearing the stain of having a criminal conviction for doing things that half of the last four presidents admitted to doing.”

STRONG PUBLIC SUPPORT YET REPUBLICANS OBSTRUCT

According to a recent Pew Research Center poll, public support for legalizing marijuana is high, with 91% of Americans saying marijuana should be legal in some for. Conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in a June that federal laws against marijuana use or cultivation may no longer make sense and said:

“A prohibition on intrastate use or cultivation of marijuana may no longer be necessary or proper to support the Federal Government’s piecemeal approach. ”

Notwithstanding people’s changing opinions about the drug support for legalization has yet to translate into support in Congress. A similar bill to decriminalize marijuana passed the Democratic-controlled House last December with bipartisan support, but not a single Republican Senator has expressed backing the Schumer Senate bill in the Senate.

Schumer acknowledged that no Republican Senator at this point supports the legislation that he does not have the votes but hoped that the draft legislation would attract proponents.

The link to the full Washington Post article containing source quotes is here:
https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/congress-marijuana-schumer-federal-law/2021/07/14/8afbddaa-e4ab-11eb-a41e-c8442c213fa8_story.html

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

The limitation on the number of plants that can be grown by licensed growers has always been a major source of contention. The limit for medical cannabis licensed producers at 1,750 has always been considered an arbitrary number not based on any market analysis. Increasing the number of plants licensed cannabis producers can grow from a maximum of 4,500 mature plants to a maximum of 8,000 such plants will in all likely be more than sufficient to deal with recreational demand and will not affect the medical cannabis producers.

It’s likely the recreational cannabis industry will be subjected to the NIMBY syndrome. NIMBY stands for “Not In My Back Yard” relating to proposed projects, businesses and zoning changes opposed by home owners, property owners, and business owners. Four of the biggest issues that generate public outcry by neighborhoods are the adult entertainment industry including pornography stores, homeless shelters, methadone clinics, and even establishments that sell liquor such as convenience stores and gas stations.

Both the city and the recreational cannabis industry are at a crossroads. They need to work together with licensing and zoning restrictions that will in fact ensure that the new industry can coexist with neighborhoods without creating nuisance businesses that create magnets for crime and contribute to loitering, public impairment and panhandling.

A few regulation requirements that need to be included for all recreational cannabis businesses and the issuance of a license to do business in the city that will prevent them from becoming magnets for crime would include:

1. Security cameras and uniform security personnel.
2. Mandatory background checks and periodic drug testing of all employees as a condition of employment.
3. Storage of all product in secured areas reducing access after hours of operation, such as used by jewelry stores to prevent thefts.
4. Mandatory nuisance abatement agreements before the city issues a license to do business where the business owner agrees to take remedial measures in the event the business reaches a level of calls for service as a result of criminal activity.

Both the city and the industry need to think broadly about the future of New Mexico’s marijuana industry in order to succeed.

The link to a related blog article is here:

Proposed State Regulations And Proposed ABQ City Zoning Restrictions On Recreational Cannabis Sales; Mandate Security Requirements And Employee Background Checks; POSTSCRIPT: KRQE News Survey;

Five Run For Republican Nomination For Governor; In A Statewide Race, Republican Nomination May Not Be Worth Much Unless Governor Lujan Grisham Does Something Really Stupid

There are 5 candidates who have announced that they are seeking the Republican nomination for Governor in 2022. Those candidates in the order of their announcements are:

SANDOVAL COUNTY COMMISSIONER JAY BLOCK

On April 18, 2021 Sandoval County Commissioner Jay Block announced he is running for the Republican nomination for Governor. Block, a retired lieutenant colonel who spent 21 years the Air Force and moved to Rio Rancho in 2015.

Block has fully aligned himself with former President Donald Trump. In his announcement he said he is in favor of defunding abortion services and restoring qualified immunity for police officers.

In his announcement video Block said:

“This is a movement of shared values. … It’s time Michelle Lujan Grisham is out of office so we can start a new era of prosperity for New Mexicans.”

Block has already gotten nasty with his remarks about the Governor when he said:

“Michelle is proud of where New Mexico stands today. Michelle is proud New Mexico ranks last in education. Michelle is proud New Mexico ranks first in child poverty.”

Before Block pops off about New Mexico being last in education and ranking first in child poverty laying all the blame on Governor Lujan Grisham, someone needs to educate him that Lujan Grisham has been in office for two and a half years. For the full 8 years before her, Republican Governor She Who Shall Not Be Named” destroyed New Mexico’s public education system with her Education Secretary Skandera.

On Friday, July 20, 2018, Santa Fe District Court Judge Sarah Singleton, after a weeklong trial, ruled that the state of New Mexico is violating the constitutional rights of at-risk students by failing to provide them with a sufficient education. The court ruling was a confirmation of what went on for the last 8 years with the state’s at-risk children under the Republican Martinez Administration.

A link to a related blog article entitled “The Scandals and Failures of Governor Susana Martinez” is here:

https://www.petedinelli.com/2018/12/31/the-scandals-and-failures-of-governor-susana-martinez/

The former Republican Governor made sure cuts were made to many social programs to help children in poverty and she also destroyed the state’s mental health care system by forcing 8 mental health care providers out of business by making false allegations of fraud with the Attorney General finding no wrongdoing.

It’s likely the only shared values New Mexico voters will have with Block is that he has no business being Governor of the state.

https://www.koat.com/article/race-for-governor-of-new-mexico-heating-up/36974820

KAREN BEDONIE

On April 25, 2021, Republican and retired teacher Karen Bedonie of Farmington announced she is running for the Republican nomination for Governor. Her announcement video featured photographs of Bedonie holding a rife, posing with law enforcers, her husband, and her family, and portrayed her campaign’s focuses on a family, faith, and freedoms-based message.

In her announcement Bedonie said:

“I am a woman of courage and I have worked tirelessly to formulate a liberating plan for the beautiful state of New Mexico. … I believe the Second Amendment of the Constitution is absolute, written so beautifully that the builders of this nation installed these rights to withstand tyranny and the trampling of our liberties and freedoms. As a mother of five daughters, we will bear arms to protect ourselves. Missing, murdered, and indigenous women is real and is also unresolved.”

When Boudine says she has worked “tirelessly to formulate a liberating plan” what she ostensibly means is arming every New Mexico resident with handguns and rifles so that we can shoot to kill our problems of poverty, education and unemployment as the problems continue to fester.

https://pinonpost.com/karen-bedonie-announces-candidacy-for-new-mexico-governor/

GREG ZANETTI

On June 14, Republican Greg Zanetti announced his campaign. Zanetti is a former Bernalillo County Republican Chairman and a former New Mexico National Guard Brigadier General who now works in the business of wealth management. He has said in the past that he does not intend to get vaccinated for covid. With respect to the Governor, Zanetti had this to say:

“We had this autocratic governor come down and impose all these rules where we shut down businesses, locked down the kids, we shut the state down, and as the facts changed and we learned more about COVID, she didn’t adjust.”

Zanetti is one of those candidates for public office who always has a smile on his face and a grin in his voice but very little understanding of the needs and concerns of average New Mexicans. How could Zanetti understand the needs of the average New Mexican when he works in the business of wealth management in one of the poorest state’s in the United States.

Surprisingly, Republican conservative Zanetti is distancing himself from Der Führer of his party and former president Donald Trump and said:

“This isn’t about Donald Trump. It’s not about one person, it’s about a bigger message.”

Ostensibly, Zanetti did not get the memo from New Mexico Republican Party Chairman Steve Pierce that the Republican Party in the state and nationally are very much in lock step with Trump.

TIM WALSH

On June 30, Albuquerque retired teacher Tim Walsh, age 74, announced he is running for the Republican nominations for Governor. Walsh previously worked as an education adviser to former Republican Governor Gary Johnson and describes himself as the same type politically as Johnson. That likely means being nothing but a libertarian who has decided to become a Republican but who smokes cannabis without telling anyone until he gets termed out.

In his announcement Walsh said if elected Governor he would push to overhaul the state’s public pension funds to a 401(k) model to address unfunded liabilities and do away with the state’s high-profile film incentive program.

Now that’s the winning message, talk about 401 (k) ‘s to attract voters’ living paycheck to pay check who have no idea if the pensions they have paid into for 30 years will be around. Walsh also said he would push to eliminate the Rail Runner commuter train and the state’s involvement in Spaceport America, both legacies of former Democratic Governor Bill Richardson’s administration.

Walsh was nowhere to be seen at Spaceport America on July 11 when Richard Branson took off successfully in his Virgin Galactic vehicle launching the space age tourism travel industry. Seeing the ZIA symbol on the side Branson’s vehicle was truly a source of pride. As far as doing away with the high-profile film incentive programs, Walsh no doubt wants to make sure that NETFLEX and NBC are forced to leave the state now that they have committed to invest and are investing billions in New Mexico’s economy and creating jobs over the next 10 years with the New Mexico film industry emerging as a production juggernaut.

https://www.abqjournal.com/2405298/gop-candidate-tim-walsh-announces-gubernatorial-bid.html

REBECCA DOW

On July 7, three term Republican State Representative Rebecca Dow of Truth or Consequences announced that she is running for the Republican nomination for Governor. In her announcement, she vowed to address “hard truths” related to the state’s high unemployment rate, low education rankings and chronic child welfare issues. She is a former early child care professional.

Dow, like the other Republican Governor candidates also immediately attacked Governor Lujan Grisham and described the governor as a “power hungry” career politician whose policies have hurt New Mexico and said:

“As a state, we have never experienced more dire conditions than we are currently struggling through right now.”

Dow is as conservative as they come. She consistently votes against all Democratic-backed bills in the legislature including to legalize recreational cannabis for adult users, voting against private employers to provide mandatory paid sick leave for employees. She also voted against a bill to repeal the 1960 archaic state abortion ban.

Being a 3 term state representative means Dow was in office while Republican Governor “She Who Shall Not Be Named” was destroying the state’s education system, mental health care system and made severe cuts in social services to children. Things got so bad with the state’s education system under the former Republican Governor that a State Court found that children’s rights to education were being denied and ordered sweeping changes mandating millions to be spent.

Dow is one of those Republicans who only becomes concerned with State issues when Democrats begin to clean up the elephant dung left by Republican predecessors. Someone should politely tell Dow to move to Texas where her “gun dotting family values” would better fit in.

https://www.abqjournal.com/2407179/state-rep-rebecca-dow-announces-gubernatorial-bid.html

MAJORITY OF NEW MEXICO VOTERS RESIDE IN 4 COUNTIES

New Mexico has a total of 33 counties. The June 30, 2021 tabulation from the New Mexico Secretary of State show that the majority of New Mexico voters reside in the 3 most urbanized counties of Bernalillo County, Dona Ana County and Santa Fe County and the far less urbanized county of Sandoval County which comes in as the 4th highest county with registered voters.

The counties of Bernalillo County, Dona Ana County and Santa Fe County are by far the most progressive in the state, while Sandoval would be considered more moderate still with a solid democratic majority of 44,796 ( 42.5 %) Democrats to 35,455 (33.7 %) Republicans.

As of June 30, 2021, New Mexico has 1,344,209 registered voters. 811,780, or well over half, reside in the 4 counties. The breakdown by party affiliation is as follows:

TOTAL MEXICO REGISTERED VOTERS: 1,344,209

DEMOCRATIC: 603,593 ( 44.9 %)
REPUBLICAN: 418,240 (31.1 %)
NO PARTY/INDEPENDENT: 295,004 ( 21.9 %)
LIBERTARIAN: 13,015 (1.0 %)
Other: 14,357 (1.1 %)

FIRST TIER VOTER REGISTRATION COUNTIES

There are 33 counties within the State of New Mexico. Only 4 of those counties have registration numbers of 105,000 or more. Combined those 4 counties have 811,780 of the 1,344,209 registered voters. All 4 of the counties have registered Democrats out pacing registered Republicans by healthy margins.

Following is the breakdown of the first-tier counties population of registered voters:

1. BERNALILLO COUNTY

TOTAL BERNALILLO COUNTY REGISTRATION NUMBER: 445,728

DEMOCRATIC: 209,681 (47.0 %)
REPUBLICAN: 123,632 (27.7 %)
LIBERTARIAN: 4,810 (1.1 %)
NO PARTY/INDEPENDENT: (102,855) 23.1 %
Other: 4,750

2. DONA ANA COUNTY

TOTAL DONA ANA COUNTY REGISTRATION NUMBER: 128,961

DEMOCRATIC 58,644 (45.5 %)
REPUBLICAN 34,081 ( 26.4 %)
LIBERTARIAN 1,338 (1.0 %)
NO PARTY/INDEPENDENT: 33,714 ( 26.1 %)
Other: 1,184

3. SANTA FE COUNTY

TOTAL SANTA FE COUNTY VOTER REGISTRATION NUMBER: 108,236

DEMOCRATIC: 68,909 (63.7 %)
REPUBLICAN: 16,485 (15.2%)
LIBERTARIAN: 854 (0.8 %)
NO PARTY/INDEPENDENT: 20,999 (19.4 %)
Other: 989

4. SANDOVAL COUNTY

TOTAL SANDOVAL COUNTY VOTER REGISTRATION NUMBER: 105,304
DEMOCRATIC: 44,796 ( 42.5 %)
REPUBLICAN: 35,455 (33.7 %)
LIBERTARIAN: 1,154 (1.1 %)
NO PARTY/INDEPENDENT: 22,983 (21.8 %)
Other: 916

EDITOR’S NOTE: The breakdown of second and third tier county registration of registered voters can be found in the postscript to this article.

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

In a recent KOAT 7 news report, respected political analyst and pollster Brian Sanderoff said of the Republican running for Governor:

“Although the Republicans have … strong candidates already announced in the Republican primary, we may see more big names enter the race, only time will tell”

https://www.koat.com/article/the-race-is-on-for-governor-of-new-mexico/36960716#

Brian Sanderoff and his company “Research and Polling” over many decades has become the best and most accurate pollster in New Mexico. Sanderoff is being exceptionally kind when he says the Republicans have strong candidates and we may see more big names. The fact is that there are really “no big names” in the Republican Party unless you want to count Steve Pierce, former Lieutenant John Sanchez and former Republican Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry. The Republican Party needs to reach out to Bernalillo County Sheriff Manny Gonzalez to change his party affiliation to Republican so that he can run for Governor if he loses the Mayor’s race which is becoming more likely than not. In other words, the Republican players bench is as lean as it gets.

Further Republicans do not win elections in New Mexico statewide unless Democrats simply do not vote or become so angry, they decide to vote Republican. The party registrations numbers and past elections support that premise.

In 2018 when elected to her first 4-year term, Michelle Lujan Grisham won with 57.2% of the vote (398,368) to 42.8% of the vote (298,091) cast for Steve Pearce. A 100,000 margin in New Mexico votes is a blowout win. She succeeded a Republican Governor who left office after 8 years with one of the lowest approval ratings of any Governor.

In 2020 New Mexico was won by President Joe Biden by a 10.79% margin of victory. Biden won the popular vote securing 501,614 votes (54.29%) to Trump’s 401, 894 (43.50%), a huge difference by anyone’s standards.

DECEPTIVE PLOYS

One deceptive ploy always used by Republicans running for New Mexico Governor is that they can “work across party lines”. Republican Sandoval County Commissioner Jay Block is already using that ploy to get Democratic support. Block does not realize that working across party lines is something the New Mexico Republican party does not want to hear, not in the age of Trump and with Steve Pierce as head of the New Mexico Republican Party. The New Mexico Republican Party is nothing but shell of its former self, with the Democratic Party having commanding majorities in both the NM State House and Senate. Democrats have no need for a Republican Governor to work across party lines, so there is no need to elect one.

Republicans have been elected Governor acting as mavericks or populists such as Republicans Governors Dave Cargo and Gary Johnson to get elected. Others Republicans get elected after a Democrat Governor becomes so unpopular that Democrats decide to vote Republican. This happened when they voted for Republican Gary Caruthers to succeed Democrat Toney Anaya who to this day left office with the lowest approval rating of any Governor. Anaya became so unpopular in large part because he commuted New Mexico’s entire death row inmates to life imprisonment and urged the abolition of capital punishment because it is “immoral and anti-God.”

Three term Democratic Governor Bruce King lost to maverick Libertarian turned Republican Gary Johnson when King simply did not realize he had overstayed his welcome.

Then there is Republican Governor “She Who Shall Not Be Named” succeeding Democrat Bill Richardson after his 8 years of “pay to play” scandals as he ran for President. Even then, both Governors left office extremely unpopular.

RUNNING IN THE SHADOW OF DER FÜHRER TRUMP

Virtually all 5 of the Republican candidates for Governor are right wing conservatives. All 5 have the same philosophy of government as former President Trump and State Republican Party Chairman Steve Pierce. Greg Zanetti distancing himself from Der Führer Trump in all likely has doomed his candidacy for the nomination from the get go.

Der Fuhrer Trump is increasing his profile and beginning to hold his rally’s again and concentrating on those within the party he has targeted as not supporting him. Watch for Trump to campaign for Republican Congress woman Yvette Harrell in 2022. It will be interesting to see if the Republican nominee for Governor will even show up to be photographed with him.

Former Republican Governor “She Who Shall Not Be Named” learned the hard way when she crossed Trump by not endorsing him. On May 26, 2015, appearing at a campaign rally in Albuquerque, Der Führer Trump unleashed a blistering assault on the former Republican Governor who skipped the event, by saying she was “not doing the job.” Trump faulted her by falsely asserting she was allowing Syrian refugees to settle in the state, and blamed her for Albuquerque’s unemployment numbers as well as the increase in the number of New Mexico residents on food stamps.

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/26/us/politics/donald-trump-gov-susana-martinez-new-mexico.html

At this point in time, the biggest hope that all 5 Republican candidates have if they are the Republican nominee, is that Governor Lujan Grisham will be viewed with nothing but extreme hostility destroying her support within the Democratic party as was the case with Toney Anaya and Bill Richardson. That is probably wishful thinking on their part, especially in the age of Trump.

According to a recent poll, Governor Lujan Grisham has an 50% overall approval rating and a 32% disapproval rating which should not be surprising at this point in time for a Governor that has shown real leadership making difficult decisions and who has been very effective in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

Governor Lujan Grisham has a 80% approval rating amongst Democrats. She has a 59% approval rating dealing with the pandemic and the 49% approval rating dealing with the economy. Her 50% overall approval rating in all likely will increase as the state begins to reopen and things get back to normal.

The link to the full poll is here:

https://www.surveyusa.com/client/PollReport.aspx?g=3247819a-cbc2-4164-8a9c-8cf1f865c23e

All 5 of the Republican candidates are in all likely running for a nomination not worth much come November, 2022, unless of course if Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham does something really stupid and pardons serial rapists doing time.
__________________

POSTSCRIPT

The breakdown of second and third tier numbers of registered voters are as follows:

SECOND TIER VOTER REGISTRATION COUNTIES

The second-tier voter registration counties consist of 7 counties with registration of 77,227 (San Juan County) and drops to 34,332 (Eddy county). Following is the breakdown:

5. SAN JUAN COUNTY

TOTAL VOTER SAN JUAN COUNTY REGISTRATION NUMBER: 77,227
DEMOCRATIC: 21,889 (28.3 %)
REPUBLICAN: 35,347 (45.8 %)
LIBERTARIAN 805: (1.0 %)
NO PARTY/INDEPENDENT: 18,255 (23.6 %)
Other: 931

6. VALENCIA COUNTY

TOTAL VALENCIA COUNTY VOTER REGISTRATION NUMBER: 45,981

DEMOCRATIC: 18,560 40.4 %
REPUBLICAN: 16,841 36.6 %
LIBERTARIAN: 424 0.9 %
NO PARTY/INDEPENDENT: 9,563 20.8 %
Other: 593

7. MCKINLEY COUNTY

TOTAL MCKINLEY COUNTY VOTER REGISTRATION: 44,905

DEMOCRATIC: 26,889 (59.9 %)
REPUBLICAN: 7,108 (15.8 %)
LIBERTARIAN: 206 (0.5 %)
NO PARTY/INDEPENDENT: 10,068 (22.4 %)
Other: 634

8. LEA COUNTY

TOTAL LEA COUNTY VOTER REGISTRATION: 37,105

DEMOCRATIC: 8,011 (21.6 %)
REPUBLICAN: 19,543 (52.7%)
LIBERTARIAN: 292 (0.8 %)
NO PARTY/INDEPENDENT: 8,817 (23.8 %)
Other: 442

9. OTERO COUNTY

TOTAL OTERO COUNTY VOTER REGISTRATION: 36,535

DEMOCRATIC: 10,016 (27.4 %)
REPUBLICAN: 16,491 (45.1 %)
LIBERTARIAN: 424 (1.2%)
NO PARTY/INDEPENDENT: 9,116 (25.0 %)
Other: 488

10. CHÁVEZ COUNTRY

TOTAL CHAVEZ COUNTY VOTER REGISTRATION: 34,896
DEMOCRATIC: 9,422 ( 27.0 %)
REPUBLICAN: 17,503 (50.2 %)
LIBERTARIAN: 314 (0.9 %)
NO PARTY/INDEPENDENT: 7,060 (20.2 %)
Other: 597

11. EDDY COUNTY

TOTAL EDDY COUNTY VOTER REGISTRATION: 34,332
DEMOCRATIC: 9,286 (27.0 %)
REPUBLICAN: 18,016 (52.5 %)
LIBERTARIAN: 307 (0.9 %)
NO PARTY/INDEPENDENT: 6,353 (18.5 %)
Other: 370

THIRD TIER VOTER REGISTRATION COUNTIES

There are 22 third tier counties that have voter registrations numbers with a wide range in the numbers oF registered voters. On the high end is Rio Arriba County with 25,460 total registered voters, Taos County with 25,369 total registered voters. On the low end is Mora County with 3,682 total registered voters to Catron County with 3,005 total registered voters, to Union County with 2,535 total registered voters with Harding County having the lowest total registered voters with only 667.

The link to the New Mexico Secretary of State statistics on registered voters by county is here:

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