ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A prominent Democrat is alleging that mayoral candidate Wayne Johnson violated the county’s Code of Conduct by accepting nearly $40,000 in campaign contributions from restricted donors in his quest to become Albuquerque’s next mayor.
Terry Brunner, who served as USDA rural development director during the Obama administration, filed an ethics complaint against Johnson this morning.
“The County Code of Conduct was designed to prohibit any county person from personally benefiting from official action,” Brunner said in a news release announcing the complaint. “Over the last year, Johnson has provided thousands of dollars in benefits to people who then became his contributors.”
The complaint comes just three days after Johnson, a Republican, filed a complaint with the city’s ethics board against State Auditor Tim Keller, a Democrat who is also running for mayor. Johnson alleged in his complaint that Keller, who is publicly financed, has improperly solicited, collected and reported cash contributions.
The chairman of the county’s Code of Conduct Review Board is Alan Packman, a partner at Rio Strategies, the firm running Keller’s mayoral campaign.
Johnson denies the accusations.
“These allegations from a Keller surrogate are laughable,” Johnson said in a statement emailed to the Journal. “Mr. Keller himself has been engaged in funneling questionable contributions through the Keller In-Kind Laundromat. It’s clear that the State Auditor doesn’t like to be audited and would like to change the subject.”
“The charges by Mr. Brunner are without foundation or any validity,” he added. “I am running for Mayor, not for County Commissioner. The charges are desperate and they know who presents a risk to the Keller money machine.”
Brunner’s ethics complaint alleges that Johnson accepted 14 individual donations that violated the Code of Conduct.
Specifically, the complaint alleges that Johnson accepted:
• Two contributions totaling $5,193 from Ted Martinez, owner of MCT Industries Inc., which in 2016 received an $18 million tax benefit from Bernalillo County.
• Two contributions totaling $1,500 from Sandia Peak Tram Co., which received a $9 million industrial revenue bond in 2016.
• Three contributions totaling $4,100 from Admiral Beverage Corp., which received a $30 million industrial revenue bond from the county.
• A $5,193 contribution from Dale Armstrong, one of the owners of One Central, which has sought an industrial revenue bond from the county. Armstrong also owns TLC Plumbing, which has ongoing county projects.
• A $5,000 contribution from Mosher Enterprises, another owner of One Central.
• A $5,000 contribution from D. McCall, agent for One Central, who owns Midway Leasing.
• A $5,000 donation from Kayla McCall, who works with D. McCall at Midway Leasing.
• And two contributions totaling $3,000 from Steve Maestas, the developer for Las Estancias retail project, which received a $1.5 million Local Economic Develoment Act grant.
The county’s Code of Conduct prohibits elected officials from accepting more than $1,000 in campaign contributions from restricted donors or their family members. Restricted donors are defined, in part, as individuals or companies doing business with or seeking to do business with the county.