Monday, October 30, 2023

Bassan's Bumpy Campaign Trail: Ethics Complaint To Accuse Councilor Of Voter Fraud; Cites Alleged Fake Registration By Her Top Aide; Meanwhile She Admits "Mistake" In Claiming Bachelor's Degree, Plus: Machine Gun Manny And How ABQ Dodged A Bullet 

Councilor Bassan
Foes of ABQ GOP City Councilor Brook Bassan are amping up the pressure as the November 7 city election draws closer and coming with surprise hits on Bassan's character that could jar voters in the Councilor's NE Heights district.  

They are charging her with engaging in voter fraud and also misrepresenting her educational background. 

While favored to win re-election, the latest developments in the Bassan race could put a large chink in her armor and raises the possibility of a much closer race or even an upset, if enthusiasm for her is dampened among her supporters. 

A defeat would be devastating for the conservative wing of the nine member council and could tip policy more towards Mayor Keller who now often faces a 5 to 4 majority against him.

Let's get to it. . . 

As ethic violations go, the one being leveled against Bassan is anything but run-of-the-mill. This comes from the camp of Bassan's opponent, Democrat and attorney Abby Foster

An ethics complaint will be filed today with the City Board of Ethics alleging that Councilor Brook Bassan has engaged in voter fraud to support her re-election. Dave Esdale, a District 4 resident, will
Emilio registration

be filing the complaint. On April 25, 2023, Brook Bassan’s policy analyst Dawn Marie Emilio—a City  employee—changed her voter registration to show she resides at the home of Brook Bassan. . . Ms. Emillio’s voter registration card shows she is registered at 9000 Modesto Ave NE, the home of Councilor Bassan, but is maintaining a different mailing address for a home on the Westside, not in District 4. Her previous voter registration card from 2017 shows she was registered at an address on the Westside. 

After Ms. Emillio changed her voter registration in April, on June 6, 2023, city records show she signed Councilor Bassan’s nominating petition for her reelection campaign and contributed $5 towards her public financing effort. By signing the petition and contributing $5, Ms. Emillio swore she was a District 4 resident. It appears Ms. Emillio intends to use Bassan’s residence to allow her to vote in the upcoming city election as a resident of Council District 4. The ethics complaint to be filed will allege (Councilor Bassan) violated numerous city and state laws. 

Strange indeed. And serious. 

This latest blow-up comes only days after District 6 Council candidate Abel Otero suspended his campaign after being caught lying when he said he had served time in prison


Is Bassan aware of all this? I asked her for an explanation. She said our Saturday inquiry was the first she had heard of the accusations but did not respond when I asked for comment. 

However, we did get a statement from Dawn Marie Emilio who lashed out at the Foster camp and offered an explanation as to why she registered to vote in Bassan's district:

Joe, I heard you may be writing something. This is a sad and pathetic example of how low some will go to score political points. I have lived in District 4 on and off for years, even before working for City Councilor Brook Bassan. I previously worked for Councilor Brad Winter. Though it’s none of their business, Brook opened her home to me for personal reasons and I moved in for a significant period of time. It's a shame that someone opening their home to another when they are in need is being turned into false allegations and exploited for political purposes. I have since moved out of her home and will cast my ballot in this election from the district in which I currently reside, just as I have always done. 

The implication of Foster's allegation is that Bassan engaged in a conspiracy with her aide who serves at her will. 

There's little time before the election for the Ethics Board to schedule a full-blown hearing on the matter but Foster's camp and/or the outside groups still have time to mail the charges directly to voters. 

As for Dawn Marie voting on the westside when she is registered in District 4, same day voter registration would allow her to switch her registration back to where she is currently residing. 

Veteran good government advocate Peter St. Cyr says if there was "cheating" going on with voter registration in District 4 it "undermines citizen engagement in the electoral process while trust in government has already plunged to single digits." He says if there is truth to the allegation "Councilor Bassan needs to withdraw from the race." 


Abby Foster
Meanwhile, the Foster forces have more ammo for another mail hit and it again goes to Bassan's character. From the newspaper

 On her campaign website and the City of Albuquerque website, Bassan listed a bachelor’s in criminology; in a 2023 ABQ Journal questionnaire, she wrote she had an associate’s. Bassan has an associate’s and said she has since corrected both websites, calling the errors an “oversight.” She provided a record of the degree. Bassan also told the ABQ Journal in a 2019 candidate questionnaire she had a bachelor’s degree. . . “It was a mistake,” Bassan said. “Truly, I never ran on being a criminal psychologist, never ran on a criminal justice degree. It was truly a mistake. ... I apologize to everyone, because I certainly did not try to say a bachelor’s degree intentionally.”. . . Bassan said she attended UNM for one semester, but didn’t graduate. . .She graduated from ITT Technical Institute in 2007.

How many candidates over the decades have been busted by the seemingly innocent Journal questionnaire? Too many to remember but Bassan definitely joins the list for not just once but twice submitting an erroneous answer to the questionnaire. 

Foster's camp casts doubt on Bassan's claim that she simply made a mistake. They say they have a recording of a radio interview with Rock of Talk AM 1600 in which Bassan states she has a bachelor's degree. (We have not heard the interview.)

What's also surprising is that the Journal did not do a stand alone story on Bassan's "mistake" on their questionnaire as they often have in the past. Instead they lumped it in with a profile story on the council race. Missing your own scoop? 

Bassan has proven to be a popular moderate councilor but in this election year she has stiffened her opposition to Mayor Keller in her Republican leaning district. If the ethics charge has legs and Bassan must admit to a "mistake" or worse, her credibility could take a severe hit, even if re-elected.  


Chasing an upset, Foster piles more baggage on Bassan:

Bassan’s campaign is being managed by consultant Jay McCleskey, who ran former Sheriff Manny Gonzales’ unsuccessful campaign for Mayor in 2021. Bassan’s reelection campaign team includes the same individuals caught up in the voter forgery scandal that denied Gonzales hundreds of thousands of dollars in public financing.

And that makes for this natural segue. . . 


Keller and Gonzales
It was always unlikely but imagine if now former Bernalilo County Sheriff Manny Gonzales--aka  Machine Gun Manny--had defeated Mayor Keller in the 2021 election? Today the Mayor would have a possible indictment hanging over him charging him with trafficking in guns--one of the most pressing issues facing our violence challenged city:

Former Bernalillo County Sheriff Manuel Gonzales and Undersheriff Rudy Mora are named — but not charged — in an alleged scheme to illegally acquire machine guns for firearms dealers and gun enthusiasts in Albuquerque and elsewhere.

The Feds say the sensational allegations occurred in 2020 while Gonzales was Sheriff. If they had been revealed with Gonzales as Mayor he would have been pressured to resign the Mayor's office and if he did it would have made current City Council President Pat Davis the Mayor by appointment.

How would a Davis mayoralty differ from Keller's? Well, we will never know and that's a good thing since it would have taken the election of Machine Gun Manny to set those wheels in motion. 

By the way in that three way '21 mayoral contest Keller defeated Gonzales 56% to 26% with 18 percent for Eddy Aragon. When Gonzales was re-elected Sheriff in 2018 he beat his GOP opponent 55 to 45. 

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