Ad­vo­cates for vic­tims of sex as­sault back Keller

Albuquerque Journal - - METRO & NM - Martin Salazar Martin Salazar: [email protected]­

Ad­vo­cates for sex­ual as­sault vic­tims are rallying be­hind State Au­di­tor Tim Keller, call­ing him a cham­pion for sex­ual as­sault sur­vivors and con­demn­ing the re­cent at­tack ad against him as “un­con­scionable.”

Keller, a Demo­crat, is one of eight Al­bu­querque may­oral can­di­dates on the bal­lot. Election day is Oct. 3.

The web­site and tele­vi­sion and ra­dio spots, which be­gan air­ing this week, ac­cuse Keller of choos­ing to pro­tect “sex of­fend­ers over our chil­dren.” The ad refers to a bill he voted for as a state sen­a­tor in 2011 that would have pro­hib­ited lo­cal govern­ments from adopt­ing rules or laws re­strict­ing where sex of­fend­ers could live. The bill, which was backed by the state At­tor­ney Gen­eral’s Of­fice, would have al­lowed res­i­dency re­stric­tions as a con­di­tion of pro­ba­tion or pa­role. The mea­sure was voted down.

Con­nie Mon­a­han, statewide co­or­di­na­tor for the Sex­ual As­sault Nurse Ex­am­iner Pro­grams and co-chair of the state Sex­ual As­sault Ev­i­dence Kits Me­mo­rial Task Force, said in a news re­lease that she has worked with Keller for three years on bring­ing at­ten­tion to the back­log of untested sex­ual as­sault ev­i­dence kits in New Mex­ico.

“He is a cham­pion for sex­ual as­sault sur­vivors,” Mon­a­han said in the news re­lease is­sued by the Keller cam­paign Fri­day. “He is fo­cused on public safety and en­sur­ing ac­count­abil­ity among the agen­cies re­spon­si­ble for fix­ing the prob­lem.”

Kim Alaburda, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the New Mex­ico Coali­tion of Sex­ual As­sault Pro­grams, blasted the at­tack on Keller in the same re­lease, say­ing that it “ex­ploits harm­ful images of chil­dren and gen­er­ates fear.” She also called it an in­jus­tice to sur­vivors of sex­ual as­sault.

The re­stric­tion on cities and coun­ties that the at­tack ad faults Keller for sup­port­ing was later ap­proved by law­mak­ers in near-unan­i­mous votes in 2013 and signed into law by Repub­li­can Gov. Su­sana Martinez. The re­stric­tion is part of a broader bill that closed a loop­hole that al­lowed some sex of­fend­ers to avoid reg­is­ter­ing when they moved to New Mex­ico from another state.

It’s un­clear who is fund­ing the ads, al­though the Keller cam­paign is at­tribut­ing them to “well-con­nected, right-wing” spe­cial in­ter­ests.

EN­DORSE­MENT: Be­fore the at­tack ad was re­leased, the Keller cam­paign an­nounced an en­dorse­ment from ABQWest Cham­ber of Com­merce.

“We en­dorse Tim Keller be­cause we be­lieve he is the can­di­date best suited to ad­dress is­sues im­pact­ing West Side fam­i­lies,” Alan Ar­mijo, pres­i­dent and board chair­man, said in a state­ment.

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