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Tierna Unruh-Enos is the managing editor and associate publisher at The Paper.

Just hours before he is scheduled to appear before a city hearing officer to defend his weekslong denial of fraud, mayoral candidate and Bernalillo County Sheriff Manny Gonzales suddenly reversed course and admitted to widespread forgery in his campaign’s collection of $5 dollar contributions to attempt to receive over $660,000 in taxpayer-funded public financing. 

In his response to the Board of Ethics and Campaign Practices, Gonzales’ campaign stated, “it does appear, upon the Gonzales campaign’s own investigation, that many of the qualifying-contribution (“QC”) receipts…were signed by someone other than the voter.”

After repeated denials by the Gonzales campaign, this statement represents the first admission of guilt by Gonzales. In the Clerk’s letter denying public financing to the Gonzales campaign, the Clerk stated: “This office cannot provide that certification because...documents presented to my Office show different signatures for the same voters on different official documents in possible violation of numerous provisions of our regulations and other laws.”

Tim Keller’s campaign has asked for an investigation into the campaign practices of the Gonzales campaign by the Office of the City’s Inspector General about widespread and deliberate fraud. The Keller campaign submitted 40 statements from voters attesting their signatures on $5 contributions for public financing were faked, 149 examples of potential forgery, and a statement from a voter saying the Sheriff personally told him he didn’t need to give a $5 contribution after signing paperwork saying he did, all in violation of city law. 

Based on this evidence, the City Clerk denied public financing to the Gonzales Campaign. Sheriff Gonzales has appealed the City Clerk’s decision to the City’s Hearing Officer, an independent arbitrator.

The city hearing is today, Thursday, July 13, at 10am. The Zoom link for the hearing is here (Meeting ID: 988 7133 5511). The Ethics Board will hear two ethics complaints against the Gonzales campaign. The first hearing is Friday, July 16, at 9am, where the Board will consider the case of the Sheriff paying for the $5 contribution for a voter, in violation of city law. The second hearing will be Thursday, July 22, to consider numerous forgeries.

Read the Gonzales campaign statement and admission of fraud here:


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