Incoming State Auditor Brian Colón is demanding that current Auditor Wayne Johnson step down with just a few days left in office.
The two men who unsuccessfully vied for Mayor of Albuquerque then state auditor, are going head-to-head again.
Colón says one of the first things he will do as Johnson’s successor is launch an investigation into Johnson, after apparently receiving a call from a whistleblower in Johnson’s office last week.
“I’m calling on Wayne Johnson to step back from the office, do the right thing by the taxpayers in New Mexico and not expose them to these inappropriate activities,” Colón told KRQE News 13 Wednesday.
Colón also pointed to an active investigation by the Attorney General’s Office into Johnson for using his office for personal gain, which the AG confirmed to KRQE News 13 by providing an October-dated letter to Johnson that raises concerns about his ability to be unbiased.
“That independence is going to be called into question by taxpayers, and it should be, and my job is to uphold the integrity of that office, even as the auditor-elect,” Colón said.
But Johnson says this is all just a diversion tactic from a potential conflict of interest between the AG’s Office and a private law firm contracted by the state, which is the same law firm Colón works at: Robles, Rael & Anaya.
Johnson says he rightfully requested the procurement documents more than 21 days ago, but that the AG’s Office has refused to provide them. He says he is concerned that friendship and politics are at play.
“To me, the intimidation pattern is pretty clear with the AG’s Office. This was an attempt to keep me from reviewing a procurement,” Johnson said. “If it was a different auditor coming in that didn’t have this relationship, with the AG’s office, Robles, Rael & Anaya, then I wouldn’t be as concerned about it.”
However, the AG’s Office and Colón rebuff the claims, saying an independent auditor already determined no problems with the contract, and that Johnson is the one who is trying to distract from the investigation into him.
Colón would not tell KRQE News 13 what exactly the whistleblower’s allegations were against Johnson. The AG’s Office also could not elaborate on the specific complaints it has received, either.
Colón takes his Oath of Office on January 1.