Johnston withdraws from race

Former District 47 candidate says police investigation unrelated

By Jesse Moya
jmoya@taosnews.com
Posted 2/27/20

In an interview with Taos News, former District 47 candidate Lyla June Johnston said her withdrawal on Sunday (Feb. 23) from her race against House Speaker Brian Egolf is unrelated to an open investigation of fraud and embezzlement that names her as one of the parties who may have been involved.

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Johnston withdraws from race

Former District 47 candidate says police investigation unrelated

Posted

In an interview with Taos News, former District 47 candidate Lyla June Johnston said her withdrawal on Sunday (Feb. 23) from her race against House Speaker Brian Egolf is unrelated to an open investigation of fraud and embezzlement that names her as one of the parties who may have been involved.

A Santa Fe police report filed on Jan. 23 by Johnston's former campaign manager alleges that an unidentified suspect entered the manager's office on Jan. 21 and stole a number of items, including a laptop and post office box key.

The former manager then said that someone used the stolen key to go to the post office and had the key changed on the box. An additional report alleges that over $8,000 was withdrawn from the manager's checking account, which could have been done through the laptop, it states.

Johnston is referred to in the police report as "the candidate ... currently running for District 47 against Brian Egolf" but no charges had been filed in the case as of press time Wednesday (Feb. 26).

During a phone interview with the Taos News Tuesday (Feb. 25), Johnston adamantly denied involvement in any crimes alleged in the police reports, which were first referred to in a Santa Fe Reporter article that morning.

"All the incidents in these reports are untrue and stem from misunderstandings with a former campaign manager," Johnston said. "These are normal challenges that can happen when you let go of a high-level employee."

The former manager indicated to police, however, that she had left the campaign of her own accord.

Johnston said her former manager no longer had access to the campaign office and that "nothing was taken" from her. Johnston did say that items had been returned to the person after she was no longer involved with the campaign.

According to Santa Fe Police Public Information Officer Greg Gurulé, the case has been transferred to the Santa Fe Police Criminal Investigations Unit.

Johnston ended her campaign over the weekend at an intimate event at the Unity of Taos Church in Taos, saying she planned to direct her energy at youth-led climate change action. While she alluded to brutal attacks that had been levied at her throughout her brief run against the House Speaker, she did not make any direct references to the investigation in which she is named.

"These were irrelevant matters to begin with and had nothing to do with my decision to change directions," Johnston said. "All parties involved are both working together to rectify the record."

Johnston says she's turning toward the future now that she has ended her campaign.

"We are really excited to focus on the issues that our people are calling out for," she told Taos News.

The incident is still under investigation with the Santa Fe Police Department.

A request for comment by the former manager's attorney, Rachel Higgins, was not answered by press time.

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