According to the Journal (Subscription), Harris is accused of spending $5,600 in campaign money for personal use. In an autodialer the group claims Councilor Harris spent "$1,100 on his car, $500 for a new bicycle and some $4,000 in personal credit card finance charges" (ABQ Journal - Subscription). This time the accusations are not being made in front of the ethics committee but directly to the councilor's constituents by phone; and while the expenditures may not be a violation of ethics regulations, they are sure to look bad to voters.
What's more indicative of the councilor's demise is the very professional and meticulous way that Harris' adversaries have executed their campaign plan. Since June the group has kept Harris in the news with a continuous stream of ethics complaints, one of which was dismissed a couple of weeks ago (ABQ Journal - Subscription). Unfortunately for Harris, voters won't remember the dismissal but rather the accusations that seem to just keep coming.
Our Eyes tell us that in an effort to clear up all of his reporting "mistakes" the councilor retained CPA and fellow councilor Ken Sanchez. Our most recent information has Councilor Sanchez jumping out of the Harris debacle effectively washing his hands of the whole thing.
Frankly, we were surprised that Sanchez would stick his nose into this mess in the first place. We know he's a professional who's probably looked into some dark and dubious spaces from an accounting stand point, but taking sides in a recall for a fellow councilor has no upside for him. In fact, there's a little thing called guilt by association which could come back to haunt him if he decides to run for reelection.
Our assessment of the political situation is fairly bleak for Harris. In yet another example of planning and execution, New Mexicans for Democracy have managed to have Harris' ethics hearing scheduled for September 24th, the week just before the recall election. An August 29th press release about the September hearing from New Mexicans for Democracy reads in part:
"The full inquiry will probe all aspects of his alleged expenditures as to their compliance with the Election Code; as to their validity as determined by receipts and invoices; and also as to the required issuance of IRS “1099” forms to campaign consultants and contractors."The item that should concern the councilor is the issuance of 1099 forms. If his campaign reporting has been fraught with error, we'd bet that the more stringent IRS requirements were bungled too. At this point we'd be surprised if Harris survived the ethics hearing much less the recall election October 2nd.-New Mexicans for Democracy