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Victim advocates rally behind Keller

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Advocates for sexual assault victims are rallying behind State Auditor Tim Keller, saying that he has been a champion for sexual assault survivors and calling the recent attack ad against him “unconscionable.”

Tim Keller

Keller, a Democrat, is one of eight mayoral candidates on the ballot. Election day is Oct. 3.

The website and television and radio spots, which began airing this week, accuse Keller of choosing to protect “sex offenders over our children.” The ad refers to a bill he voted for as a state senator in 2011 that would have prohibited local governments from adopting rules or laws restricting where sex offenders could live. The bill, which was backed by the state Attorney General’s Office, would have allowed residency restrictions as a condition of probation or parole. The measure was voted down.

Connie Monahan, statewide coordinator for SANE and co-chair of the state Sexual Assault Evidence Kits Memorial Task Force, said in a news release that she has worked with Keller for three years on bringing attention to the backlog of untested sexual assault evidence kits in New Mexico.

“He is a champion for sexual assault survivors,” Monahan said. “He is focused on public safety and ensuring accountability among the agencies responsible for fixing the problem.”

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Kim Alaburda, executive director of the New Mexico Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs, blasted the attack on Keller, saying that it “exploits harmful images of children and generates fear.” She also called it an injustice to survivors of sexual assault.

“To suggest that Tim Keller, who did support well written, informed, evidence based legislation that truly protects children, is anti-child safety, is unconscionable,” Alaburda said in the same release, which was issued by the Keller campaign this morning.

Ironically, the restriction on cities and counties that the attack ad faults Keller for supporting was later approved by lawmakers in near-unanimous votes in 2013 and signed into law by Republican Gov. Susana Martinez. The restriction us part of a broader bill that closed a loophole that allowed some sex offenders to avoid registering when they moved to New Mexico from another state.

It’s unclear who is funding the ads, although the Keller campaign is attributing it to “well-connected, right-wing” special interests.

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