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Candidate fired on accusation of misconduct, says it’s retaliation

RIO RANCHO, N.M. — Sandoval County Chief Deputy Clerk Anne Brady-Romero was fired under accusations she campaigned on duty; Brady-Romero says her termination was retaliation.

The termination letter to Brady-Romero from County Clerk Eileen Garbagni said Brady-Romero used county resources for her campaign while on duty.

Anne Brady-Romero

Brady-Romero is running as a Democrat for Sandoval County Clerk in this year’s elections. Eileen Garbagni is serving her second term as a Democrat and can’t run again due to term limits.

After an investigation for allegations of misconduct, Brady-Romero’s employment was terminated Oct. 12, according to the letter.

Brady-Romero is in remission from breast cancer and has been working from home since early in the pandemic.

“During the investigation, Anne admitted to finding out another employee passed tickets to Anne’s February fundraiser to a former employee on county time,” said Joey Dominguez, Brady-Romero’s campaign manager.

This interaction was pre-COVID.

Eileen Garbagni

“The clerk asked Anne to show the clerk Anne’s first campaign card. Anne did not even have one in the office and had to bring it in later, again at the clerk’s request. The clerk red-penned the card and criticized Anne’s ideas,” he said.

Dominguez said there also was a customer at the county clerk’s office who engaged in conversation with Brady-Romero about a fundraiser in February.

Someone else made copies of Brady-Romero campaign material using county materials and on county property, according to Dominguez.

“Apparently someone other than Anne photocopied the campaign material and alleged Anne used county copy machines to campaign. Anne has always bought her campaign material and has invoices from all the vendors used to print any campaign material,” he said.

Brady-Romero said her termination was retaliation from Garbagni. According to a press release Dominguez sent, Garbagni abused her authority, created a hostile work environment and engaged in political activity.

In November 2019, Brady-Romero filed a whistle-blower complaint with the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office against the county clerk, alleging “corruption and unethical behavior by the clerk,” according to the press release.

“As an at-will employee, the clerk could have terminated Anne without cause at any time during the past seven years but she did not,” noted the release. “However, once Brady-Romero notified the Secretary of State about duplicate ballots being sent to Brady-Romero’s precinct, Garbagni fired her.”

The 2019 complaint accused Garbagni of not charging friends and family for recording documents, according to the complaint. In addition, it said Garbagni threatened Brady-Romero after the chief deputy let the county treasurer into the county clerk’s office.

Brady-Romero has worked for the county for about a decade and has been the chief deputy clerk for the past seven years.

“I am a survivor, not only to my battle with cancer, but my fight to be ethical in an office that has been nothing less than dysfunctional. Corrupt politicians are like cancer or a virus that try to make you lose focus,” said Brady-Romero in the release.

Sandoval County spokesman Stephen Montoya declined to comment.



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