Does the mayor own rental properties? To whom do city councilors — and their spouses — owe debts?
The public will have those answers in 2023 under new and more vigorous disclosure rules for Albuquerque’s elected officials.
Mayor Tim Keller two weeks ago signed legislation updating the City Charter’s Code of Ethics provisions regarding how much financial information the city’s mayor and councilors must reveal. The City Council already had voted unanimously to approve the changes.
City Clerk Ethan Watson, whose office worked on the proposal, said the new rules track with financial disclosure standards once proposed for state of New Mexico officials but never adopted at that level. He said the city is now at the forefront of transparency policy.
“I think we identified there was room for improvement in the level of disclosure the city has required of elected officials in the past, and we were excited that the mayor and City Council were interested in pursuing this,” Watson said.
Councilors Brook Bassan, Pat Davis and Klarissa Peña co-sponsored the legislation at the Keller administration’s request.
Bassan said it makes sense that officials now have to report information about their immediate family members as well as themselves.
“You have someone like me — technically as a stay-at-home (mom), self-proclaimed household CEO — I don’t have income, so where would my money be coming from?” she said. “I share our finances with my husband.”
Under the new policy, elected officials will have to disclose the following information for themselves as well as their spouses and dependent children:
- Identity and location of all real property they own and its purpose
- A list of all assets worth more than $50,000, including trust funds, stocks, bonds and other investments
- All sources of income, including unearned income like rental property revenue and capital gains
- Liabilities over $5,000, including the amount of debts/liabilities, the person to whom they are owed and payments made over the last year, though some debts — like mortgages on a primary residence — are excepted
- The name, location and nature of privately held businesses in their control
- All professional licenses, board memberships/offices/positions within corporations, trusts, nonprofits, political organizations and more (elected official and spouse only)
- All gifts worth over $50 — including meals, tickets to events, use of personal property or a preferential rate on goods and services — received from any lobbyist, restricted donor, government contractor or person bidding on city work
Watson said his office is working on a new form that encompasses the newly required information. While elected officials have in the past had to fill out financial disclosures, it has been a one-page form that asked about their sources of income, their real estate interests — but only those in Bernalillo County — their memberships/positions inside professional organizations and any business relationships they already have or may have with the city of Albuquerque.
Jeremy Farris, the New Mexico State Ethics Commission’s executive director, spoke in favor of the stronger disclosure rules during the City Council’s Dec. 5 meeting. He said the new rules are consistent with the American Law Institute’s principals of government ethics.
“In many ways, the passage of this ordinance would make Albuquerque a model in the area of financial disclosure law,” Farris said.