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Tuesday, May 9, 2006
Councilor Faces Ethics Complaint
By Jim Ludwick
Journal Staff Writer
City Councilor Brad Winter is facing an ethics complaint over help he received from the Republican Party during last year's mayoral campaign.
The complaint, filed with the Board of Ethics and Campaign Practices by a campaign volunteer for Mayor Martin Chávez, says Winter's relationship with the party was inappropriate and was not properly disclosed on campaign finance reports.
It comes as Winter prepares to seek a final vote Monday on city ethics-reform legislation he has proposed as a councilor.
And last week, Winter was appointed by Gov. Bill Richardson to a task force that will help rewrite state ethics and campaign-finance law.
Winter said Monday he has not read the complaint, but he believes it was orchestrated by Chávez, who defeated Winter in last year's election.
"It's Marty being Marty," Winter said. "I'm sure it's to embarrass me. ... It's too bad the ethics process is used for political reasons."
Chávez denied involvement Monday, saying it's "silly" for Winter to believe he's behind the complaint.
It was filed by Carol Brusca, a mental-health therapist and lifelong Republican. She said she favored Chávez in the mayoral race because of his position on mental-health issues.
Brusca said the Republican Party was heavily involved in Winter's campaign, even though the race was supposed to be nonpartisan. She said Winter should have filed financial disclosures about the value of political mailings and other help he received from the party.
"During the campaign, I received lots of mail at my house," Brusca said. "When I saw what was going on, it upset me greatly. ... It was no longer a nonpartisan campaign."
Similar allegations were raised during the race. At the time, the Winter organization said the Republican Party was operating separately, not in conjunction with Winter, and there was no need to report its efforts as a donation.
There was no immediate response Monday from Republican officials.
The ethics charge might face an obstacle because of a deadline issue. Normally, the ethics board won't proceed with hearings if a complaint is filed more than 120 days after the events it describes.
Robert Tinnin, board chairman, said a review committee will discuss the matter within the next 10 days.
Winter said he expects the council to vote Monday on his ethics-reform legislation.
He wants to protect city employees from pressure to help political campaigns, impose new rules for doing business with campaign contributors, scrutinize travel by city officials and make other changes in the ethics code. His legislation would put those changes into the City Charter.
Winter originally proposed rules that would have been more stringent, but he has amended his proposal in an effort to win support. For example, he had wanted to restrict travel by public officials but now is calling for simply disclosure.