Secretary of State Dianna Duran plans to fight allegations that she committed fraud, embezzlement, money laundering and other crimes related to abusing the state’s campaign finance system, her attorney says.
“Let there be no doubt that Ms. Duran will plead not guilty to the attorney general’s sensational and misleading charges and will vigorously fight this selective prosecution,” Duran’s attorney, Erlinda Ocampo Johnson, told NMPolitics.net late Monday.
It’s the first time Duran’s attorney has said the embattled secretary of state would plead not guilty. On Friday, after Duran was charged, Johnson said there were “potential violations of law” by the attorney general in its investigation. Because of that, she pledged to file a motion seeking dismissal of the charges. But, at the time, she didn’t proclaim Duran’s innocence.
Duran’s attorney didn’t answer a question about whether Duran is considering resigning. House Democrats called Monday for the Republican to resign or, if she won’t, for their GOP colleagues to join them in discussing possible impeachment proceedings.
Johnson also said Monday the Attorney General’s Office has not turned over evidence upon which the charges are based despite requests.
And she pushed back against a spreadsheet the AG’s criminal complaint included that states about $430,000 was electronically debited from accounts controlled by Duran at several New Mexico casinos in 2013 and 2014.
The criminal complaint alleges that Duran illegally took less than $10,000 from her campaign account for personal use, not several hundred thousand dollars, Johnson pointed out.
While calling the spreadsheet “misleading,” Johnson didn’t say the $430,000 was an inaccurate number. The criminal complaint doesn’t indicate how Duran got much of the money it alleges she withdrew, or what she did with it.
Duran isn’t accused of stealing public money. She’s accused of illegally using campaign contributions. Investigators allege several instances in which checks intended to be campaign donations were deposited into Duran’s personal bank account.
Attorney General Hector Balderas, a Democrat, also alleges tampering with public records, conspiracy and violations of the Governmental Conduct Act.
Balderas’ office wouldn’t take questions Monday. Spokesman James Hallinan said the office won’t comment on the case before a preliminary hearing is held.