New Mexico High Court Avoids Mayor Campaign Funding Case

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico Supreme Court decided not to weigh in on the Albuquerque city clerk’s decision to deny Bernalillo County Sheriff Manuel Gonzales about $600,000 in public financing for his campaign for mayor.

The state high court on Wednesday denied Gonzales' request to order a state judge or City Clerk Ethan Watson to certify Gonzales for public campaign financing, the Albuquerque Journal reported.

Judge Bryan Biedscheid in Santa Fe last month ordered Watson to reconsider, saying Gonzales was denied due process before Watson decided July 9 that Gonzales and his campaign violated financing qualification rules.

Appeals, hearings and court filings led to the request last week for the Supreme Court to step in.

Gonzales’ campaign has admitted submitting forged paperwork to the clerk, and the city Board of Ethics & Campaign Practices fined Gonzales $500 — the maximum penalty possible — after finding he violated city code while attempting to qualify for the money.

Gonzales’ attorneys have argued the sheriff remains eligible for public financing and Watson is not an impartial decision-maker since his term as clerk is tied to incumbent Mayor Tim Keller.

Gonzales’ campaign did not immediately respond to a request from the Journal for comment. The election is Nov. 2.