Over the last week I’ve been watching the story coming out of Otero County regarding Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn, his son Blair Dunn and Otero County Commissioner Ronny Rardin. The trio appear to be under attack over petty matters of no consequence, by William Wheatley and Susan Wheatley two siblings who supported Mr. Dunn’s Democrat opponent in the recent Land Commissioner race.
Now the Wheatley siblings filed a complaint with the New Mexico attorney general and auditor regarding the conduct of the Dunns and Rardin. And another complaint against Blair Dunn with the New Mexico Disciplinary Board. They claim there were unethical or wrong actions of some kind going on.
A story in The Santa Fe New Mexican, reports that not long after Rardin was hired as a short-term transition team employee by Land Commissioner Dunn, County Commissioner Rardin recommended that Blair Dunn be considered and hired for the position of County Attorney in Otero County and replace the current attorney. At the time Rardin did not disclose that he was working for Land Commissioner Dunn as it was, “pretty much known” he had a short-term contract. This has the Wheatley siblings furious! Blair Dunn has done contract work for the county for the past three years.
Wheatley’s complaint says that on Jan. 8, Rardin, who has been a county commissioner 15 years, made a motion at a county meeting to replace county attorney Dan Bryant with Blair Dunn. The younger Dunn was already working as a contract attorney with the county. No one seconded Rardin’s motion, and it died.
Under the 90-day State Land Office contract, Rardin was to be paid $7,500 a month to audit all equipment and facilities around the state owned by the office. Wheatley said the contract was issued without a competitive bid, as required under the Governmental Conduct Act.
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Aubrey Dunn said hiring people on 90-day contracts has saved the state $130,000 as opposed to hiring full-time employees with benefits. “I’m disappointed that someone would make these allegations when we’re trying to do what’s best for the state,” Aubrey Dunn said.
Blair Dunn said he has been working as a contact attorney with Otero County since 2012. He has handled public land and water issues for the county, which has been at the forefront of a movement seeking to transfer management of some federal lands to the state.
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Rardin, who attended high school in Alamogordo with Aubrey Dunn, ended his work with the State Land Office in February. “It was never was about the money,” he said. “It was about helping Aubrey off on the right foot.”
In the meantime the Albuquerque Journal, which endorsed Dunn’s opponent in the last election, weighed in earlier this week twice with slanted articles favoring the Wheatley siblings who have been stirring this story up. Apparently these Powell supporters object to Dunn hiring local people Dunn believed he could trust to transition in to the office of Land Commissioner. Maybe the Wheatley siblings and the Albuquerque Journal believe Dunn should have hired people who didn’t support his campaign and were perfect strangers?! Yeah– wonder how that would work for him?
There’s not much to this “story”– but the liberals and Powell supporters are still in campaign mode and to those individuals and groups anything is fair game.