Opponents of state Auditor Tim Keller have unleashed the first television attack ad of the mayoral campaign, accusing him of choosing to protect “sex offenders over our children.”
Keller, a former state senator and one of eight candidates on the mayoral ballot, is crying foul, calling it a false attack.
The 30-second ad, which began airing this week, features a woman and a man talking about a bill Keller voted for, as images of silhouetted attackers and terrified children pop up on the screen. The TV ad, and corresponding radio spot, are posted at badtimmy.com.
The 80-word voice-over packs a mighty punch: “As a state senator, Tim Keller supported a bill taking away the city of Albuquerque’s right to limit where child molesters can live. Not only was he against keeping child molesters from living close to schools and parks, but Tim Keller wanted to make Albuquerque a safe haven to attract child molesters from around the country. What will he do as mayor? Is he the person to make our community safe?”
The Keller campaign promptly responded to the ad late Wednesday.
“As a father of two young children, it is absolutely offensive to suggest that I would let anyone harm our kids, let alone make life easier for those who do,” Keller said in a news release. “What the attacks don’t tell you is that as a senator, I fought for and passed the nation’s strongest sex offender laws to date, and as auditor have been a champion for public safety and tackling the rape kit backlog.”
The two-page bill referred to in the ad was introduced in 2011 and would have prohibited local governments from adopting rules or laws restricting where sex offenders could live. But it would have allowed distance restrictions for a registered sex offender’s residence as a condition of probation or parole.
At the time, the state Attorney General’s Office favored the bill, saying that failing to pass it could result in local governments adopting exclusionary zones and other restrictions that could open them up to legal challenges, according to a fiscal impact report on the bill.
The Sex Offender Management Board, responsible for making recommendations to the state Sentencing Commission for managing and treating sex offenders, also supported the bill, according to the report.
“Imposing blanket restrictions has had a destabilizing impact in every jurisdiction where it has been implemented and most experts believe that it is dangerous and counterproductive,” the group held, according to the report.
The bill died on a 20-16 vote. Keller, a Democrat, voted for it.
Keller attributed the “false, partisan political attacks” to “well-connected right-wing special interests.”
A political committee called Make Albuquerque Safe paid for the ad. And while the chairwoman and treasurer of that committee are identified as Denise Romero and Donna Taylor, respectively, it is unclear who is paying for the ad. The group listed no contributions as of Sept. 7, when the latest batch of campaign finance reports were due.
“We don’t know who is donating to that,” Keller told the Journal.