A second ethics complaint was filed last week against Albuquerque city councilor and mayoral candidate Dan Lewis, this one alleging that he has received thousands of dollars in contributions from individuals who are agents of city contractors or vendors, or, in some cases, from the business itself, which the complaint alleges is a violation of city campaign finance rules.
Lewis denies any wrongdoing.
Given notice requirements, it’s unlikely that the complaint will be resolved before Election Day, which is Nov. 14. Lewis is running against state Auditor Tim Keller in the mayoral runoff.
The initial complaint, filed with the city’s Board of Ethics & Campaign Practices on Nov. 1, alleges that Lewis accepted $2,000 in contributions from John Mancini of Desert Fuels Inc., and another $7,692 from Payam Ghoreishi of PG Enterprises.
“As the primary officer holders of those companies, those persons are agents of those companies and such a backdoor maneuver to sneak funds into candidate Lewis’ campaign coffers is in violation” of city rules, Rio Rancho resident Charles Arasim wrote in his complaint.
He has since amended his complaint to include additional contributions from other individuals and entities totaling nearly $36,000 that were reported by Lewis on Friday.
Arasim alleges that those contributions also violate the city ban on accepting contributions from entities that have a contractual relationship to provide goods or services to the city. The ban doesn’t apply to contributions from city employees.
“The check from PG Enterprises was returned a month ago when the clerk notified us that they had a contract with the city,” Lewis told the Journal. “And John Mancini does not own Desert Fuels Inc. Other contributions mentioned comply with the open and ethical election code. This complaint was disproved before it was filed along with the first one.”
The first ethics complaint against Lewis, which was also filed last week, alleges, among other things, that he has an unlawful financial interest in a city contract and that he has failed to properly disclose his financial interest in it.
Lewis works for the company, and City Council staff have since produced records showing that Lewis did, indeed, disclose his connection to the company. The city’s Office of Inspector General looked into the contract in 2015 and found no impropriety.
“I’ve not had one ethics complaint ever even filed against me, until 12 days before an election and the end of my eight years of public service on the council,” Lewis said. “These frivolous complaints will not get beyond the Clerk’s Office. The Keller supporters who filed the complaints should have done their homework.”