Ethics complaint accuses Gonzales of election fraud - Albuquerque Journal

Ethics complaint accuses Gonzales of election fraud

Bernalillo County Sheriff Manuel Gonzales speaks at a news conference last week. Mayor Tim Keller’s campaign filed an ethics complaint Monday accusing Gonzales of election fraud. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

Mayor Tim Keller’s reelection campaign is accusing opponent and Bernalillo County Sheriff Manuel Gonzales of committing fraud in his effort to obtain public financing.

An ethics complaint filed by the Keller campaign Monday alleges Gonzales personally told a voter that he did not have to pay the $5 contribution that Gonzales must collect from 3,779 city voters to qualify for public financing.

A Gonzales campaign official denied the accusation in a written statement Monday.

“This is a baseless complaint and neither Sheriff Gonzales, nor the campaign covered any contribution,” Megan McMillan said in the statement.

“Instead of filing baseless campaign complaints, Mayor Keller should focus on fighting real crime in Albuquerque,” she said.

According to the complaint filed with the Albuquerque City Clerk’s Office, Gonzales allegedly told the voter that his campaign would cover the $5 contribution, which is a violation of Albuquerque’s election law.

The complaint was accompanied by a written statement from Dean Zantow, a member of the Salvation Army Advisory Board, who alleges the fraud occurred when Gonzales attended a May 27 board meeting as an invited guest.

After speaking to the board, Gonzales and two sheriff’s deputies allegedly asked board members to sign a petition to permit Gonzales to appear on the ballot as a candidate for mayor.

Gonzales and the deputies also allegedly asked the board members to sign a document saying they had provided a $5 “qualifying contribution” that would allow Gonzales to qualify for public financing.

Zantow wrote in his statement that he agreed to fill out a receipt showing that he had provided a $5 qualifying contribution, then asked Gonzales: “Am I supposed to give you $5?”

Gonzales allegedly responded, “No, that’s OK, we’ll cover that,” according to Zantow’s statement. Zantow signed and dated the statement Sunday.

Zantow said in a phone interview Monday night that he made a $5 contribution to the Keller campaign Tuesday. At that time, Zantow informed the Keller campaign worker that Gonzales had not required him to pay $5, he said.

“I thought it was irregular, but I didn’t think it was that big a deal,” Zantow said.

The campaign worker then alerted the Keller campaign, he said.

Attached to the complaint is a copy of a $5 contribution receipt, dated May 27, allegedly signed by both Zantow and Gonzales.

The ethics complaint alleges that Gonzales’ campaign submitted the contribution receipt to the City Clerk’s Office on June 1.

Since 2007, Albuquerque mayoral candidates have been allowed to choose to finance their campaigns publicly or privately.

Both Gonzales and Keller are seeking public financing for their campaigns.

Candidates seeking public funding have until June 19 to obtain the $5 contributions to qualify for $661,309 in public financing. Election Day is Nov. 2.

The city’s election code requires that $5 qualifying contributions be paid by the contributor listed on the receipt, and that “if the funds are provided by any other person other than the contributor who is listed on the receipt, the qualifying contributions will be deemed fraudulent.”

McMillan said Keller faced his own election complaints during his first campaign in 2017.

“It’s rich that we’re getting lectured on ethics from the campaign that was found guilty of … breaking the city law in the last election,” McMillan said in the statement.

In 2017, the city’s Board of Ethics & Campaign Practices found that Keller’s campaign violated the election code with its handling of in-kind donations. But the board did not issue a reprimand or a fine, determining that Keller had “acted in good faith and did not intend to violate” the rules.

McMillan also pointed out in her statement that Gonzales had received an endorsement Monday from Michael Geier, former chief of the Albuquerque Police Department, whom Keller forced to retire last year after two years as APD’s chief.

Home » News » Albuquerque News » Ethics complaint accuses Gonzales of election fraud


Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

1
Supreme Court sides with coach who sought to pray ...
ABQnews Seeker
The Supreme Court sided Monday with ... The Supreme Court sided Monday with a high school football coach from Washington state who sought to kneel and pray on the field after ...
2
NM department heads, others didn't disclose financial info
ABQnews Seeker
Elected officials, the leaders of state ... Elected officials, the leaders of state agencies and certain other appointees are required to file annual disclosures
3
New Mexico paid sick leave law set to take ...
ABQnews Seeker
The Healthy Workplaces Act applies to ... The Healthy Workplaces Act applies to all private businesses
4
How does New Mexico's paid sick leave law work?
ABQnews Seeker
Q&A about the new law Q&A about the new law
5
APD investigating homicide in Nob Hill area
ABQnews Seeker
Police say the person was found ... Police say the person was found outside
6
APD: 2 shot to death in west Albuquerque
ABQnews Seeker
Officials says victims 'appear to be ... Officials says victims 'appear to be related'
7
Albuquerque local to compete on 'American Ninja Warrior'
ABQnews Seeker
Katie Bone, 16, also has chance ... Katie Bone, 16, also has chance to raise awareness for Type 1 diabetes on show
8
No license plate may mean a black-market vehicle sale
ABQnews Seeker
June 6 column reported 1,772 tickets ... June 6 column reported 1,772 tickets so far this year for no registration
9
Home equity deduction question has plenty of what-ifs
ABQnews Seeker
Q: I need to borrow money. ... Q: I need to borrow money. With the increase in the equity of my home due to the significant increases in the housing market, ...