The Republican candidate for New Mexico State Auditor is incumbent Wayne Johnson, who was appointed to the position in December 2017 by Governor Susana Martinez after then-auditor Tim Keller left to serve as mayor of Albuquerque.
Johnson was elected to represent the 5th district on the Bernalillo County Board of County Commissioners in 2010 and was reelected in 2014. He resigned from the Commission in March 2018. He ran for mayor of Albuquerque in 2017, but lost to Keller.
Johnson was born in Albuquerque, where he attended Sandia High School. He went to the University of New Mexico, where he received a bachelor's degree in university studies with an emphasis in computer engineering and film. He is the owner and president of Vista Media Productions, a company his family started in 1975.
According to his campaign website, Johnson has “championed transparency, ethics, and accountability” while serving as county commissioner. He says he entered politics “to hold public servants accountable.” During a forum hosted by KRWG News, Johnson said, “As your state auditor, [transparency] has been my focus as well. I call myself the state's 'chief transparency officer,' and my job is to get in and shine the light on what your governments are doing and how they're performing—not just on their finances, but also in their performance.” In an interview with the Albuquerque Journal, he said exposing taxpayer-funded organizations that have misspent public funds is his top priority as state auditor. He said he will remain nonpartisan when ordering special audits of government agencies.
He sponsored Bernalillo County's first Openness and Transparency Resolution, which provided an online transparency portal for users to review county spending, campaign disclosures, contracts and view other resources. Listed as a “legislative achievement” on his website is the Code of Conduct Ordinance, which replaced an “expensive and non-functional ethics ordinance” with a more “streamlined” one.
Johnson was criticized recently for allegedly misspending campaign funds to pay for an election night party last year. Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver’s office accused him of spending $1,640.23 in state campaign funds to host the party, a move state Elections Director Mandy Vigil said was illegal, because campaign funds cannot be used to repay the debt of a municipal election. He was ordered to reimburse his campaign fund. Johnson told reporters the action against him was politically motivated.
The former county commissioner was also alleged to have accepted donations from a restricted donor—individuals or companies attempting to do business with the county. In April the Bernalillo County Code of Conduct Review Board found that Johnson violated the code he helped create by accepting a $2,500 donation from one of these individuals in July—the CEO and owner of Yearout Energy Service Co. (YESCO). Last year Johnson voted alongside his fellow commissioners to enter a guaranteed energy performance contract with YESCO for energy upgrades to Bernalillo County’s Metropolitan Detention Center. In June, Johnson was fined $1,000 and publicly censured by the board for the violation. He has denied the allegations and claims the code doesn't apply to municipal elections.