Because Secretary of State Dianna Duran has lost all credibility, she needs to resign from office, many NMPolitics.net readers say.
The majority of those who commented on my recent column explaining why I’m not calling for Duran’s resignation strongly disagreed with my assertion that she is entitled to due process. Greg Lennes of Las Cruces, for example, called my opinion “laughable.”
“She owes it to New Mexicans to resign for her outrageous misbehavior,” Lennes wrote. “New Mexicans should feel no sympathy for her.”
And in response to my column, Bruce Malott of Albuquerque wrote, “You’re kidding, right?”
“How does she perform her duties amongst the distraction?” Malott asked.
Cindy Madrid of Socorro pointed to my own statement that I have “zero confidence” in Duran’s ability to do the job New Mexicans have now twice given her.
“There is a confidence problem and, may I add, it is severe,” Madrid wrote. “This is why she should not continue in the job. She is compromised even if she is proven to be innocent.”
‘It is a trust issue’
Duran is facing charges including fraud, embezzlement, money laundering and identity theft for allegedly using campaign funds to keep her personal bank account in the black. There are two legal avenues that could lead to her removal from office: The Legislature is considering impeaching her. And if she’s convicted of even one felony — she’s charged with dozens — she becomes ineligible to hold elected office. Duran has pleaded not guilty.
Even if Duran is acquitted in a court of law, we now know of donations others reported making to her campaigns that she never disclosed. The official charged with administering our state’s campaign reporting system – and enforcing violations – apparently wasn’t reporting all of her own donations.
In other words, Duran is forever tainted, many said.
“Even a whiff of impropriety destroys the trust crucial to the execution of this office,” wrote Steve Duran Badal of Santa Fe. “There should be no allowing for legalities or technicalities to play themselves out – the fact that she was engaged in anything resembling irresponsible actions destroys her credibility and ability to hold this position.”
“It is a trust issue for me. She needs to resign,” wrote Virginia Garcia of Roswell.
Barbara Alvarez of Las Cruces agreed. “She’s a state official in a high place and as such, she should be implicitly trusted by Democrats, Republicans and independents,” Alvarez wrote. “Her actions destroyed what trust we felt toward her (if any).”
“Sorry Heath, I can’t back you on this one,” wrote Joe Reynaud of Las Cruces. “With major elections coming up there will be numerous complaints of voter fraud, which will have to be investigated, and findings rendered by her. How can we trust she will faithfully and without bias look into these complaints?”
Torn on the issue of due process
Not all disagreed with my column.
“I think you’re spot on,” wrote Jim O’Donnell of Taos. “I can’t stand her. But we are all due the due process.”
Some said they were torn on the issue of due process, but they still ended up believing Duran should resign. That included Gail Wheeler of Las Cruces and Francisco Apodaca of Albuquerque.
“She is entitled to due process just like any other accused criminal, but I’m tired of politicians not being held to a higher standard than other citizens and in many cases being held to much lower standards,” Wheeler wrote. “She is not able to perform her duties to the state and should resign.”
Apodaca called the issue “difficult.”
“I believe in due process so that both sides can be heard,” he wrote. “In this case, however, with the type of evidence against her, the public outcry mounting, and the cost to the public mounting, its time for her to resign and save what little face she has left.”
‘The Legislature should act quickly’
No one can force Duran to resign, and thus far she’s refusing calls to quit. The mechanisms to remove a statewide elected official whose only boss is the electorate are impeachment or a felony conviction.
Duran’s criminal case won’t likely be resolved quickly. The next legal battle is over a motion to disqualify Attorney General Hector Balderas from prosecuting the case. A preliminary hearing has already been pushed back from later this month to December.
Lawmakers investigating possible impeachment have set an expectation that their work will take months. But with the 2016 presidential election on the horizon, and Duran currently making preparations to oversee it in New Mexico, some NMPolitics.net readers are hoping for speed.
“The message here seems to be that the Legislature should act quickly,” wrote Claudia Anderson of Farmington. “I hope they get it.”
“Her lawyer can’t delay an impeachment. That is due process,” wrote Paul Eichhorn of Albuquerque. “Any delay is the fault of the Legislature.”