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SANTA FE – Mayor Alan Webber’s campaign is accusing multiple local nonprofits of electioneering for his opponent, Santa Fe City Councilor JoAnne Vigil Coppler.
The complaint, filed with the city of Santa Fe’s Ethics and Campaign Review Board on Wednesday, accuses Union Protectíva de Santa Fe, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2951 and American Legion Post 1 of illegal political activity. The complaint accuses the groups of taking out political ads in the Santa Fe Reporter against Webber.
The complaint alleges that is illegal political activity and that the groups should be required to register with the city as political committees. None of the groups is registered as a political committee with the city.
The American Legion and VFW posts are military veteran organizations, and Union Protectíva is a Spanish heritage organization.
“Mayor Webber is clearly retaliating against Hispanic, Catholic, veteran and military citizens and groups with this baseless and desperate complaint to create divisiveness,” said James Hallinan, spokesman for Union Protectíva. “Webber is a struggling mayor who is out of touch with Santa Fe’s history and culture.”
VFW Cmdr. Gilbert Romero rebuffed the ethics complaint accusations. He said that the VFW isn’t a political organization and that if he speaks out against Webber, he’s doing so as an individual, not on behalf of the VFW.
American Legion Cmdr. David Lucero said he has no knowledge of the American Legion paying for an ad against Webber. He said that at the legion’s next meeting, he will try to get to find out what’s going on.
The ads say they are paid advertisements from VFW Post 2951 and American Legion Post 1. The ad says “Santa Fean’s are shocked that the Mayor Webber believes his made-up CHART,” which the ad says stands for Canceling Hispanic arts, religion (and) traditions, apparently referring to a committee created after the destruction of the Santa Fe Plaza’s Obelisk.
The Culture, History, Art Reconciliation and Truth Committee was created by the city of Santa Fe.
The complaint is asking the review board to impose a $500 fine per campaign ethics violation, to require the groups to register as political committees so they are required to disclose their donors and to require the VFW and American Legion to remove yard signs in the community.
The complaint also asks the review board investigate an email Union Protectiva President Virgil Vigil sent to Vigil Coppler stating his support for her campaign.
However, Vigil Coppler’s campaign manager Sisto Abeyta said the email went to an account Vigil Coppler doesn’t use anymore and was sent before she declared her candidacy.
Webber has also faced an ethics complaints. Alexis Martinez Johnson filed a complaint against Webber, accusing him of using city funds to support his mayoral campaign.
The complaint included ads with Webber’s campaign logo advertising an event with the Santa Fe City Fire Department.
Martinez Johnson is also running for mayor, and this complaint is scheduled to be heard by the review board Thursday afternoon.