September 6, 2017

Mayoral candidate calls claims his law firm represents former APD chief ‘propaganda’

Andy Lyman

Brian Colón

An Albuquerque mayoral candidate attempted to distance himself from a former Albuquerque police chief accused of improper and possibly illegal actions involving  a city contract.

Last week a Twitter user said former Democratic Party of New Mexico chairman Brian Colόn was “So far the best candidate,” but went on to ask “However is it true your firm represents [former Albuquerque Police Chief] Ray Schultz?”

Colόn, who is an attorney, responded on Twitter Monday afternoon, saying “My firm does not represent Schultz. Propaganda.”

Even though Twitter limits post length, the firm’s history with Schultz goes beyond 140 characters.

In 2015, the Office of the State Auditor held a press conference announcing findings from an investigation into Schultz’s actions in securing a deal with Taser International, Inc., which sold weapons and body cameras to the Albuquerque Police Department. State Auditor Tim Keller referred the case to Attorney General Hector Balderas, which has yet to file charges against Schultz, though Balderas’ office confirmed the investigation is ongoing.

Related: New ABQ TASER audit targets former police chief

In 2015, a KRQE-TV report quoted Albuquerque attorney Luis Robles as Schultz’s lawyer. Robles is a named partner at Robles, Rael & Anaya, where Colόn is listed as “Of Counsel,” meaning he is not necessarily a decision maker for the firm.

Colόn told NM Political Report he used the word “propaganda” to describe the claim that Robles was still representing Schultz because he thinks his political opponents are using it against his campaign for mayor.

“Just because folks were indicating we are representing him and I have reason to believe my colleagues are interested in fueling that narrative,” said in a text message.

Robles confirmed via email that he no longer represents Schultz and hasn’t “for about two years – more or less.”

Robles declined to offer any other details, citing attorney-client privilege, but wrote, “I no longer represent Mr. Schultz in any capacity.”

Robles personally represented a number of APD officers including Dominique Perez. Perez was one of two APD officers who were charged for murder in the fatal shooting of homeless camper James Boyd but a jury was unable to come to a decision. Robles has also long done other contract legal work for the City of Albuquerque, including litigation and police training services. According to city records, Robles, Rael & Anaya PC was paid at least $2.5 million dollars by the city of Albuquerque for various services between 2010 and 2017.

Related: ABQ audit adds to fallout over TASER purchases

Many of the mayoral candidates have walked a thin line between promising public accountability of APD and pledging support to officers themselves. Every candidate has said they would replace current police chief Gorden Eden. That includes Keller, who announced his mayoral candidacy about nine months after his office released the Taser findings.

Colόn spoke at an Albuquerque Police Officers Association event last month and said he was proud to be a part of a firm that represents Albuquerque officers, “when they’re in their deepest and darkest days.” He was referring to Robles, Rael & Anaya,

“I’ve got competitors in this field that like to use that against me, who’ve said my firm has stood with law enforcement when they’ve shot innocent Albuquerque citizens,” Colόn said. “I wear this as a badge of honor. I was proud to stand with APD for the last decade, I’ll be proud to stand with APD as mayor of our beautiful city of Albuquerque.”

NM Political Report emailed and called Schultz, but did not receive a response before press time.

Schultz is currently listed as the chief of police for Memorial Villages, just outside Houston.