A bipartisan committee will investigate whether the allegations against Secretary of State Dianna Duran warrant impeachment, N.M. House Speaker Don Tripp announced Wednesday.
“Given the serious nature of the allegations made by the attorney general against the secretary of state, I believe the appropriate and responsible next step for the House of Representatives is to begin the process of determining whether these charges have merit and rise to the level of impeachment,” Tripp, a Republican, said in a news release.
Duran is accused of fraud, embezzlement, money laundering, and other charges related to abusing the state’s campaign finance system. Trip’s move comes after House Democrats called Monday for Duran to resign or face possible impeachment.
Duran’s attorney has said the secretary of state will plead not guilty to the charges. She hasn’t said whether Duran is considering resigning.
Tripp has asked the Attorney General Hector Balderas to share his office’s investigative file with the committee. The speaker promised, in a letter he sent to Balderas, to keep the file confidential “to protect the integrity of your investigation and subsequent legal proceedings as well as to ensure that the accused is treated fairly and impartially.”
Duran’s attorney, Erlinda Ocampo Johnson, told NMPolitics.net on Monday that the AG hadn’t shared evidence with her despite requests.
Tripp also sent a letter to Senate President Pro Tem Mary Kay Papen asking for her help in seeking funding for the investigation and per diem for members of of the committee at the next meeting of the Legislative Counsel on Sept. 15.
Trip, a Republican, said he would appoint an equal number of Republicans and Democrats to the committee “after getting recommendations about the Democrat appointees from the minority floor leader,” Democrat Brian Egolf.