City councilor’s former opponent claims violation of privacy, negligence

News

An Albuquerque city councilor is being sued by one of the candidates he beat.

His opponent, who’s also a local radio DJ, claims Don Harris violated his privacy when he posted his criminal history for the world to see.

“We did nothing wrong. This is just politics in a campaign,” City Councilor Don Harris said, defending how he ran his re-election campaign before winning his district nine seat. “The candidate has to tell the story about your opponent. It’s also called negative campaigning but it’s also something the public has a right to know.”

Yet, a lawsuit Byron Powdrell filed against Harris on Sept. 4 claims the city councilor’s actions were negligent and a violation of privacy because Powdrell’s sensitive information was published online with it, including his home address, birth date and social security number.

“I had a contractor publish a website that published documents that were public documents,” Harris said.

He said he did take down the original documents and replaced them with redacted ones, but adds he did nothing wrong, pointing out that the state law that prohibits posting someone’s social security number has an exception for public records, like the police documents from Powdrell’s criminal history.

The city’s board of ethics already dismissed similar allegations back in November after Powdrell pleaded his case.

“This campaign season’s been one of the dirtiest and the ugliest,” Powdrell said in late 2017.

The lawsuit claims Harris’ smear campaign has led to “severe emotional distress, threats to his family, physical injuries and lost wages.”

Still, Harris maintained Powdrell brought the burden on himself.

“It’s not pretty but that’s the stage Mr. Powdrell stepped on knowing that he had this history,” Harris added.

Powdrell’s attorney told KRQE News 13 highlighting charges that were dismissed decades ago is a low-blow.

Powdrell wants financial compensation, but the lawsuit doesn’t say how much.

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