ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The race for Albuquerque’s next mayor grows more and more tense by the day. On Friday, Sheriff Manny Gonzales’ application for public financing was denied by the city clerk.
Gonzales said he’ll fight it. “We were shocked,” said Bernalillo County Sheriff Manny Gonzales. “We’re appalled.”
Sheriff Gonzales is pushing back after the city clerk’s office sent a letter to Gonzales’ mayoral campaign. It outlines reasons why they can’t certify Gonzales’ application to get public funding for his campaign. According to the letter, the City Clerk’s office reviewed two ethics complaints against Gonzales’ campaign.
They’ve deemed a contribution to the campaign “fraudulent” and have referred it to the City’s attorney for investigation after a registered voter claims Gonzales told him Gonzales himself would pay a required five-dollar contribution for that voter. “That’s a groundless, frivolous complaint,” said Gonzales. “These are just tactics that are being used in a smear campaign by the Keller campaign.”
The second complaint alleges Gonzales’ campaign forged signatures on contribution receipt and signatures from the same voters on other documents. “It was part of the forgery for the receipt for the five dollars that I gave him, it was not a forgery for the petition that I signed because I did sign a petition for Gonzales,” said Kenneth Struve over the phone. “I did not sign that receipt for the five dollars I gave him for the help with his campaign.”
Mayor Tim Keller’s campaign raised red flags about nearly 150 signatures, including Struve’s. To qualify for more than $660,000 in public funding for their campaign, candidates have to prove they have community support by collecting five dollars from one percent of City voters, which is almost 3,800 people. Gonzales and Keller both claim to have met that threshold.
Gonzales has said this was all an innocent administrative mistake made by volunteers and calls Keller’s claims again him ‘desperate’. “That appointment is made to the city clerk by the mayor and so for us, we want to make sure we are treated fairly and we will take legal action to whatever degree we need to,” said Gonzales.
Gonzales has three days to appeal the city clerk’s decision. He told News 13 he plans to do just that. Keller’s campaign said in a statement: “The evidence shows that my opponent’s campaign engaged in intentional widespread fraud.” He goes on to say that “it’s wrong, unethical and possibly criminal election tampering.”