Longtime City Councilor Patti Bushee is under investigation for an alleged conflict of interest with a local developer.
Earlier today, City Manager Robert Romero signed a contract with law firm Stelzner, Winter, Warburton, Flores, Sanchez and Dawes to investigate claims that Bushee owes money to developer Steve Duran for unfinished work from 2005. That year, Bushee hired Duran's brother to do plumbing work at her home, she says.
Duran is a partner with Railyard Co. LLC, which has clashed with the city since it entered a deal in 2005 to build a $14 million publicly-owned underground parking garage in the Railyard.
Railyard Co. has since accused the city of delaying the project and threatened a lawsuit. Now Duran accuses Bushee of not properly recusing herself from city votes related to his company. Bushee dismisses it as politically motivated, given her opposition to much of Railyard Co.'s proposals at city hall.
"Somebody wants to shut me up," Bushee tells SFR.
She also denies the allegations and says she's happy to provide the receipts that show she paid Duran's company everything in full.
The investigation, first reported on by KOAT-TV, could cost the city up to $25,000. Bushee questions its timing, which comes on the heels of her criticism of the city's transparency and her request of an outside audit of Advantage Asphalt and Seal Coating's work with the city. Earlier this year, Advantage Asphalt principals were indicted for allegedly defrauding Santa Fe County. As for the city audit, it found no wrongdoing with 2010 contracts.
Regarding this investigation, Bushee says it's not the city's obligation to investigate unsubstantiated claims. She says that in her 18 years on City Council she's often had people allege wrongdoings against her fellow councilors. She also says she doesn't plan on recusing herself from votes regarding Railyard Co. anytime soon.
"I've been voting against this project for the past two years," she says. "I will continue to vote against it."