Campaign ads often use hyperbole to sway voters, but in recent weeks one Albuquerque mayoral candidate appears to have included misleading statements in his campaign material. Albuquerque City Councilor and mayoral candidate Dan Lewis has not held back on dark, ominous TV ads that say his opponent State Auditor Tim Keller will be soft on criminals. Lewis has cited an Albuquerque Journal editorial endorsing him for mayor in campaign materials, but he also claimed the paper criticized one of Keller’s votes while the Democrat was a State Senator. What Lewis cites is actually an opinion article written by a prominent Keller critic who helped fund other anti-Keller ads. Earlier this month, Lewis’ campaign announced the release of a TV ad attacking Keller for two of his votes in the state senate.
Albuquerque campaign finance reports released Friday shed some light on negative political ads aimed at New Mexico State Auditor and mayoral candidate Tim Keller. Shortly after early polls showed Keller leading the mayoral race, television and radio ads popped up accusing Keller of siding with sexual predators. According to finance reports from Make Albuquerque Safe, Western Albuquerque Land Holdings, LLC and Veteto Properties, LLC were the only two donors and each donated $30,000. Measure finance committees, or MFCs, are the Albuquerque equivalent of political action committees in state or federal races. WALH is most well known as the company behind the proposed Santolina development, west of Albuquerque.
A Bernalillo County commissioner wants the county attorney to investigate donations to a political action committee supporting two candidates for county commission. New Mexicans for New Mexico PAC recently drew controversy for its donors’ affiliations with the Santolina planned development, a project on Albuquerque’s westside whose developers are asking the county to approve 80 subsidies for the next several decades. The PAC sent mailers supporting District 2 candidates Steven Michael Quezada and Robert Chavez and has repeatedly targeted Adrián Pedroza, the candidate most outspokenly critical of Santolina. The PAC also funded billboards for Quezada touting his “Breaking Bad” credits. Commissioner Debbie O’Malley, a supporter of Pedroza, wants an investigation into whether certain donations to the PAC violate county campaign finance rules.
A political action committee’s support of Steven Michael Quezada for Bernalillo County Commission is leading to questions because of the donors behind it—including from Quezada himself. Last month, the New Mexicans for New Mexico PAC paid for billboards that reference the actor and comedian’s most well-known credential—his supporting role as DEA Agent Steven Gomez in the cable TV drama “Breaking Bad.”
“Elect Breaking Bad’s good guy,” read the billboards, which also feature a picture of smiling Quezada and his name written in a font reminiscent of the opening credits of the popular TV series. The funders behind New Mexicans for New Mexico PAC, which is independent of Quezada’s campaign, are developers and lawyers with ties to Santolina, a controversial planned development of residences that the county commission approved zoning changes for last year. Santolina’s backers say the planned development could be home to as many as 90,000 people over the next 40 to 50 years. But the issue has sparked outrage from critics who call it sprawl development and point to British-based multinational bank Barclays, which owns the land Santolina is set to be built on, as the corporate driver behind it.
As Albuquerque’s October city elections approach, campaign finance reports are trickling in. The latest period for campaign reports covers July 17-Aug. 13. Four city council seats are up for election, only two of which have more than one candidate. We’ll start with Pat Davis, who we’ll disclose here helps raise money for New Mexico Political Report through his role as Executive Director of ProgressNow New Mexico to keep our operations running but exerts no control over our editorial content.
In an unusual—though legal—parliamentary move, city councilors rejected the introduction of legislation seeking city input into the Santolina master plan. Councilor Isaac Benton announced late Friday afternoon that he planned to introduce the legislation. The introduction of legislation is generally a part of the agenda that goes by without much notice. But this time, councilor Trudy Jones moved to not allow the legislation to be introduced. After a heated exchange between council president Rey Garduño and councilor Dan Lewis over the composition of the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority, the council voted 6-3 to reject Benton’s bill.
Tonight, Albuquerque City Councilor Isaac Benton plans to introduce legislation to give the city a say on approving or rejecting the controversial Santolina master plan. Update: In a rare parliamentary maneuver, the city council rejected the introduction of Benton’s bill, meaning it will not be heard. This story continues as originally written. Benton told New Mexico Political Report that his goal is to simply “ask people to go on the record about whether or not they believe we should coordinate between city and county” on the planned community development that would take up 22 square miles on Albuquerque’s West Side and house up to 90,000 people. “I think the voters and city and county taxpayers in general would like to see the two governments work together on something of this magnitude,” Benton said.