AG cuts ties with secretary of state’s office

The Associated Press
Dianna Duran

ALBUQUERQUE — The state attorney general’s office says it will no longer provide Secretary of State Dianna Duran’s office with legal advice or handle campaign finance complaints referred by Duran’s office.

Attorney General Hector Balderas in a letter Tuesday said Duran’s office would have to find alternative legal representation while the criminal case against Duran is pending, KOB-TV reports. Duran is facing fraud, embezzlement and money laundering charges.

“Although not made lightly, I believe that the decision to discontinue our legal representation of the SOS while the criminal proceedings are pending will facilitate the operations of both our offices,” the letter states.

The attorney general represents state entities in legal battles and handles campaign finance investigations referred by the secretary of state’s office. Balderas returned 31 campaign finance civil complaints to Duran’s office and recommended that the cases now be referred to district attorneys.

“In light of the ongoing criminal complaint, I believe the most prudent course is to return the 31 referred matters to the SOS,” Balderas wrote. “Although I understand this may cause some inconvenience for your office, the (Campaign Reporting) Act authorizes the SOS to refer these and other civil matters for enforcement to the district attorneys, as well as to the OAG.”

The attorney general filed a 64-count complaint against Duran Aug. 28, alleging Duran funneled campaign donations into personal accounts and falsified campaign finance reports. She has also been accused of withdrawing large sums of money while at casinos around the state.

In a statement sent by Duran’s spokesman, Ken Ortiz, Duran called the latest move by the attorney general’s office political.

“The Attorney General has created a ‘conflict of convenience.’ Although he believes there is no conflict in prosecuting his own client, the Secretary of State, the Attorney General now believes he has a conflict with investigating other candidates and political committees who may be his political friends.”