Gonzales backer hits Aragon with ethics complaint - Albuquerque Journal

Gonzales backer hits Aragon with ethics complaint

Conservative radio show host Eddy Aragon is pushing back against an ethics complaint filed against him Wednesday, saying he has offered free airtime to his opponents. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

A co-chair of a political action committee on Wednesday filed an ethics complaint against Albuquerque mayoral candidate Eddy Aragon, alleging that he is violating city and federal regulations by campaigning on his conservative radio show.

Aragon, the CEO of Rock of Talk LLC and a Republican candidate for mayor, said he isn’t violating any rules. He said that at the start of every segment on his radio show he reads a disclaimer that his Democratic opponents, Bernalillo County Sheriff Manuel Gonzales and incumbent Mayor Tim Keller, are welcome to free airtime on his station upon request.

“I just wish both that Manny and Tim – especially Manny – would leverage that time to have a better conversation about what’s happening in the city of Albuquerque rather than filing ethics complaints,” Aragon said. “Manny is welcome to come on anytime. But because of how he’s performed in the debates, I’ve beat him handily every single time, he’s not willing to do it.”

As a candidate running a privately funded campaign, Aragon can collect only $66,130 in in-kind contributions, according to the ethics complaint. The complaint says city election rules say that “if a candidate has a business entity and that entity provides goods or services to the campaign without charge, or at a 20% or more discount, those contributions are in-kind contributions that must be disclosed.”

The complaint alleges that Aragon regularly takes to the air to try to raise money for his campaign but that he hasn’t reported any in-kind contributions from the Rock of Talk.

Aragon said he met with his attorney, who advises him on Federal Communications Commission rules, to come up with a way for him to continue hosting his show and campaign for mayor. That’s why since August, Aragon said, he regularly reads a disclaimer on air saying Gonzales and Keller are welcome to free time if they want it.

“We addressed this before we even got in the race,” he said.

Karen Montoya, a former member of the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission, filed the complaint on Wednesday. Montoya is the co-chair of the Save Our City Measure Finance Committee, a PAC supporting Gonzales.

“Eddy Aragon broke federal and city laws, and he needs to be held accountable,” Montoya said.

The complaint is the latest in a series of allegations campaign supporters have been filing against other candidates in the mayoral race. Election Day is Nov. 2.

Earlier this year, Keller’s campaign manager filed two ethics complaints against Gonzales, alleging that Gonzales violated city rules while seeking public financing. City Clerk Ethan Watson ultimately used the evidence presented in Neri Holguin’s complaints to reject Gonzales’ application for public financing.

Gonzales supporters also filed ethics complaints against Keller’s campaign. One of those complaints is still pending before a city ethics board.

And earlier in the campaign, a petition was filed in 2nd Judicial District Court that sought to remove Aragon from the ballot, alleging he improperly listed a commercial address as his residence. A judge ruled against the petition.

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