Questions rise over Nichole Rogers’ candidacy: ‘District 6 is entitled to a City Councilor who is ethical’

Pete Dinelli | Photo courtesy of Pete Dinelli.

By New Mexico Sun

It was recently revealed that Nichole Rogers, Albuquerque City Council candidate for District 6, failed to file required documents for her nonprofit to the IRS and certain New Mexico state agencies. As a result of these findings, her campaign has drawn criticism from various parties, including Albuquerque attorney Pete Dinelli.

“District 6 is entitled to a City Councilor who is ethical, who is above reproach, who knows how to manage finances both privately and in their private business dealings, who actually knows the problems of the District by actually living in the District for more than a few years, something that cannot be said of Nichole Rogers.”, said Pete Dinelli.

To better understand this controversy it’s crucial we first look at Rogers’ political scenario.

Rogers is running for election as a Democrat in Albuquerque’s 6th District, which covers the International District. None of the four candidates received over 50% of the votes, so it is heading to a runoff election between Rogers and the other top vote-getter, Democrat Jeff Hoehn. According to KRQE, the 6th District was previously represented by Pat Davis, who served two terms and therefore cannot run again.

Notably significant questions are being raised concerning Rogers’ handling of her non-profit organization called Welstand Foundation.

A lot of this scrutiny is aimed towards Rogers’ nonprofit organization the Welstand Foundation, a one-person organization that was started by Rogers in 2019 and whose federal tax-exempt status was revoked in 2022. Rogers had never filed federal forms on income and expenses during the Welstand Foundation’s existence. In a blog post, Dinelli questions how much money the nonprofit received and where it went since it is impossible to know based on the non-existent tax filings.

Adding to the complexity of the situation, there are discrepancies regarding when Rogers claimed she closed her foundation.

Rogers has stated that she closed the Welstand Foundation, but hasn’t been consistent with when she did. Dinelli, in his blog, points out that on different occasions on the internet, she has said she closed it in 2020, as well as 2021.

Records have shown that Rogers’ foundation received substantial funding from city resources.

As stated in a previous story in the New Mexico Sun, the Welstand Foundation received $15,000 from the city of Albuquerque through the city’s Coronavirus Community Support and Recovery Funds in 2020. This was ostensibly to help fund Welstand Village, a group home for children of color that was supposed to open in the summer of 2021 but never did.

The legitimacy of Rogers’ non-profit organization further came into question due to its inconsistent standing status.

It also appears that the foundation was still accepting donations in 2022 after they were supposedly shut down. On Oct. 20, 2023, the Welstand Foundation was listed by the New Mexico Secretary of State as “active” but “not in good standing.” However, as of Nov. 1, it’s now in good standing.

Dinelli goes further to assert connections between Rogers and current Mayor Tim Keller which could potentially influence District 6 policy decisions

Dinelli also claims that Rogers is particularly close to Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller who appointed Rogers as the City of Albuquerque African American Community and Business Liaison with the Office of Equity and Inclusion in 2021. This is in contrast with the other District 6 candidate, Jeff Hoehn, who differs from Keller on certain issues, including approaches to fighting the homeless issue in Albuquerque. Keller seems keen on having a few, large shelters for the homeless population, while Hoehn said he would want to fund smaller, population-specific shelters. Hoehn is the executive director of Cuidando Los Niños, a shelter and school for homeless children. It is also noted that Hoehn has lived in the district for 21 years, while Rogers has lived there for six.

Meanwhile, as these controversies unfold, the upcoming District 6 run-off election remains scheduled as planned.

Early voting for the District 6 run-off election goes through Dec. 9. Election day is Dec. 12.