Editorial: Secretary of State should resign — now
When New Mexico Secretary of State Dianna Duran talked to The Daily Times editorial board in 2014 seeking our endorsement for a second term, she said protecting the sanctity of the vote was her priority.
But she has shown a disdain for the electoral process, in particular refusing to enforce a state campaign finance reporting law that helps inform voters about the groups and individuals that are backing candidates for public office.
And now she faces a 64-count complaint filed by New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas alleging embezzlement, fraud and money laundering. According to court documents, Duran is accused of transferring $13,000 in campaign funds to personal accounts and withdrawing more than $400,000 from ATMs located in the state's casinos.
The best thing Duran can do to serve New Mexico voters is resign — immediately.
In light of the charges, New Mexico House Speaker Don Tripp said in statement last week that he has created a committee to determine whether there is enough evidence to impeach Duran. And New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez has said that, if the allegations are true, Duran should resign.
Martinez and others are missing an important point. We think Duran proved she was unfit for the job before the charges were filed.
The current situation already calls into question whether Duran can perform the duties required of her position. Duran has dropped out of sight requiring the postponement of two public hearings scheduled to consider changes to election and campaign finance rules. She reportedly is blaming the problem on scheduling conflicts.
But, as we said in a previous editorial, her unwillingness to enforce the campaign finance reporting law is dereliction of duty.
A Daily Times analysis by reporter Dan Schwartz published in February showed that she had collected only 4 percent of the 1,984 fines her office assessed during the 2012 and 2014 primary and general elections. She waived approximately one-third of the uncollected fines, and took no action on all but a few of the rest.
The current charges would explain her antipathy for the law since she is accused of falsifying her own reports. (In the editorial board meeting, she insisted that a few cases of voter fraud presented a greater threat than lack of transparency in campaign financing. She didn't get our endorsement.)
After our report was published, Duran stopped responding to our questions. Balderas presented recommendations to strengthen the law and Duran's response was to attack him for campaign finance reporting violations. Her charges were based on mostly inaccurate information she obtained from her own office.
Even if the charges against her are dismissed, she has shown no inclination to take her job seriously. She is not serving New Mexico's voters and she must go.