Wayne Johnson says ethics complaint is an attempt to distract attention from the one he filed against Tim Keller.
A campaign ethics complaint filed Monday is alleging that mayoral candidate Wayne Johnson, who is also a Bernalillo County Commissioner, has received nearly $40,000 in improper campaign donations.
The complaint was filed with the Bernalillo County Code of Conduct Review Board by Terry Brunner, who was the state director for Rural Development at the U.S. Department of Agriculture during the Obama administration.
The complaint alleges that Johnson, a Republican, violated the county’s code of conduct by accepting campaign donations from people or companies that might have business before the commission.
But Johnson, who is in his second term as a commissioner, called the allegations “laughable” and said the complaint was an attempt to distract attention from an ethics complaint he filed against mayoral candidate Tim Keller, a Democrat, on Sept. 8.
“This is an obviously an attempt to change the subject [from his complaint against Keller]. The basis of the complaint is laughable and we are in compliance with both the city and the county codes of conduct,” Johnson said.
In a news release announcing his complaint against Johnson, Brunner said, “The Bernalillo County Code of Conduct says elected officials cannot accept campaign contributions higher than $1,000 from ‘restricted donors’ or their family members. ‘Restricted donors’ are those who have business with the county. As of the most recent mayoral campaign report filed with the City of Albuquerque, Commissioner Johnson had received almost $40,000 in campaign contributions from restricted donors in his race for mayor of Albuquerque.”
The complaint against Johnson includes an interesting twist. Alan Packman, who runs the consulting firm that is running Keller’s campaign, Rio Strategies LLC, is the chair of the county’s Code of Conduct Review Board, and it’s that board that will hear the complaint against Johnson.
The board can censure an elected county official, fine them up to $1,000 and turn over its findings to the District Attorney’s office if it thinks the evidence merits a candidate’s removal from office.
Both Johnson and the state Republican parties have asked for investigations into Keller’s campaign finance contributions.
Johnson’s complaint was filed with the city’s ethics board and alleged that Keller has violated the city’s public finance campaign law. Because Keller qualified for public financing — $343,000 — he is barred from accepting other cash contributions. But KOB-TV reported last week that Keller’s campaign manager has solicited cash from donors and reported the money as in-kind contributions.
So far, Keller’s campaign has reported $36,000 in-kind contributions.