Mayor on political e-mail: ‘I won’t do that again’

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

Gayla Brumfield said it never occurred to her that asking city officials to forward an e-mail invitation to a political candidate’s fundraising dinner was inappropriate.

“I didn’t know that I couldn’t do that. I guess it’s in the personnel policy,” Clovis’ mayor said Tuesday afternoon.

“I sent it out. It’s my fault, I’m learning. I don’t know what else to say. I won’t do that again.”

The e-mail, sent from the city manager’s office by Administration Secretary Vicki Reyes, invited city commissioners to a political fundraiser for Lt. Gov. Diane Denish, who is running for governor in 2010.

“The only thing I can say at this point is that it was brought to my attention and it appears to be a violation of our city personnel policy,” City Manager Joe Thomas said.

Thomas declined to say what disciplinary action was taken, if any, but said the issue has “been dealt with.”

Reyes, who answered the phone at the city manager’s office on Tuesday, declined comment.

As an elected official, Brumfield is not subject to city personnel policy.

She said she wanted to be sure city commissioners were invited to the dinner for Denish, so she told her staff to send the invitation to the city manager’s office and ask it be forwarded to commissioners.

Denish chalked the incident up to an oversight.

“This certainly isn’t how the campaign wanted this event to be advertised,” she said in a statement.

“But Mayor Brumfield is a committed public servant and a great mayor. We’re sure this was just an honest oversight that won’t happen again,” Denish said.

City personnel policy prohibits employees from engaging in political activity while on the job, or from using city property for political purposes.

The invitation was for a Friday night cocktail reception in support of Denish. It suggests a $100 per-person donation and asks guests to respond to a member of Denish’s staff.

Brumfield and her husband are hosting the event in Clovis.

Brumfield said Denish is a good friend and will be in town this weekend to deliver the commencement speech at Clovis Community College.

Tuesday afternoon the New Mexico Republican Party issued a stern press release chastising use of city resources and payroll time for campaigning.

“It is inexcusable that Mayor Brumfield is using her elected position and city personnel and resources to promote her political views. …

The mayor should cease immediately,” the release read.

Curry County Republican party chairman Rube Render agreed.

“If the mayor is using city resources and city time and city employees to further the campaign of Lt. Gov. (Diane) Denish, that … should be stopped,” he said.

Brumfield said she accepts full responsibility for what happened and never intended to cause a violation of policy.

“I’ve learned, I won’t do it again. I guess I just upset someone. I feel bad about it,” she said.

“I think it’s just an opportunity for the Republican Party of Curry County and New Mexico to make an issue, to bring it to light, and I’ll pay attention from now on.”

Editor David Stevens contributed to this report.