On Friday, First District Court Judge Bryan Biedscheid issued an order denying Sheriff Manny Gonzales’s emergency motion to allow his campaign to privately fundraise while he litigates his denial of public financing. This sets up a decision for the Sheriff’s stalled campaign for Mayor of Albuquerque – keep fighting or raise money.
Judge Biedscheid is the same jurist who earlier sent Gonzales’ appeal back to City Clerk Ethan Watson, initiating a re-do of the campaign’s appeal hearing. Following Monday’s second appeal hearing, Watson again issued a denial of the campaign’s public financing, in part due to the Sheriff’s admission to forgery. Gonzales has subsequently appealed to the New Mexico Supreme Court.
The choice the campaign now faces is this: continue litigating the denial of over $660,000 in public dollars and be restricted to $130,000 in seed money collected $250 at a time, or notify the City Clerk that the campaign would drop the application for public financing and instead take private contributions.
So far the Sheriff’s strategy appears to be something akin to having your cake and eating it, too. Gonzales continues to expend taxpayer dollars in various public venues by fighting a denial due to campaign finance misconduct. Gonzales has admitted guilt in violating the Open and Ethical Election Code. For now, he seems content attempting to collect $250 at a time, enjoying time in front of the camera.