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Mayoral run proving to be costly

Mayoral candidates Tim Keller and Dan Lewis

Mayoral candidates Tim Keller, left, and Dan Lewis

Launching a mayoral run in Albuquerque isn’t a cheap proposition, as is evidenced by the latest round of campaign finance reports filed Friday.

City Councilor Dan Lewis has already raised a total of $847,000 for the initial election and runoff, and more than $22,000 in in-kind contributions. He has about $30,500 left in his campaign coffers as of Thursday. Major contributors listed in his latest report include Kaufman Fire Protection Systems Inc., Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits LLC and CEMCO Inc, which each gave $5,000.

His opponent, State Auditor Tim Keller who is running a publicly financed campaign, has received $506,254 in city funds and seed money. He also reported $37,870 in in-kind contributions. Keller was reporting a negative balance of $100.

Three political action committees supporting Keller have also raised significant sums.

ABQ Forward Together raised $663,000 — much of that money from unions — to help get Keller elected. The committee had just under $36,000 left in its account. Top contributors listed in the committee’s latest filing include Paula O’Brien of Santa Fe, who gave $10,000; AFSCME Council 18 and the Martin Heinrich for Senate political action committee each pitched in $5,000.

ABQ Working Families, a local political action committee supporting Keller, has raised $122,000 and still had about $22,000 left.

ABQFIREPAC, another political action committee supporting Keller, has raised $67,000 and had an ending balance of $9,378.

Keller also has political action committees opposing him. Make Albuquerque Safe/Western Albuquerque Land Holdings raised $63,000 and spent most of that on attack ads against Keller during the initial municipal election period. The group has raised less than $5,000 during the runoff period, and it was reporting an account balance of $49.

Keller to cover legal fees: During Thursday’s city Board of Ethics and Campaign Practices meeting called to determine whether Keller broke city campaign finance rules based on the manner in which his campaign handled in-kind contributions, Keller told the board that he will likely cover his own legal fees for the proceedings.

Keller is facing three ethics complaints, and he has two attorneys representing him in that process.

Besides the complaint that Keller broke the rules for in-kind donations, he has been accused of illegally coordinating with a political action committee that formed to support his mayoral run and of failing to report the legal expenses he is incurring on required campaign finance reports.

Attorney Pat Rogers, who argued that Keller was violating the in-kind rules by asking supporters to write checks to the firm managing his campaign, questioned Keller about his legal fees.

Keller said he had not yet received an invoice. He added that the complaints named him personally and not the campaign, and he indicated that he plans to pay those legal fees out of his own pocket.

“They’re representing me, as a person,” he said.

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