September 10, 2018

Former ABQ city council candidate suing current councilor for releasing personal information

Joe Gratz


Update: Added a response from Don Harris

Almost a year after the Albuquerque municipal election, a former city council candidate is suing his former opponent, who won the council seat.

Byron Powdrell, who owns and operates a local, non-profit radio station, filed a lawsuit against City Councilor Don Harris and a private investigator hired by Harris during the 2017 mayoral and city council election season. Powdrell alleges Harris and private investigator Joe Fanseca published the radio station owner’s private information, including his Social Security number, to a campaign website aimed at disparaging Powdrell.

The website, which was registered to an email address for Harris’ law firm, has since been taken down.

Harris told NM Political Report he had no comment as he had not been served with the lawsuit at the time of publication.

Powdrell’s lawsuit called the actions by Harris and Fanesca, “wanton, reckless and intentional.”

In 2017, Harris defended his council seat against challengers Powdrell and Paul Ryan McKenney. Both of his opponents called Harris out for hiring Fanesca to dig up dirt on them which was later posted online. For Powdrell, that meant domestic violence arrests and restraining order violations. In previous news reports, Powdrell said all of the charges were either dismissed in court or he was found not guilty.

Powdrell is asking for financial compensation to be determined in a trial.