New Mexico attorney general charges secretary of state with corruption


Hector Balderas at Navajo Nation Police Headquarters

New Mexico’s Democratic attorney general on Friday charged Republican secretary of state Dianna Duran with embezzlement, fraud, money laundering and campaign finance violations, further widening a rift between the two over enforcement of the state’s laws governing campaigns.

Attorney general Hector Balderas’ office filed the 64-count complaint…in state district court in Santa Fe…

The attorney general’s investigation stemmed from a confidential tip received in July 2014. Duran was accused of funneling contributions intended for her campaign into personal accounts for her own use.

According to the complaint, the investigation centred on deposits of large amounts of cash as well as campaign contributions into both personal and campaign accounts controlled by the secretary of state. The movement of money often culminated with cash expenditures at casinos throughout the state, the complaint states.

Investigators obtained subpoenas for multiple casinos where Duran withdrew cash. Records show those electronic debits totaled more than $282,000 in 2014 alone. Another $147,641 was withdrawn in 2013.

The complaint also cites a series of detailed bank transactions as well as donations from supporters, calling into question Duran’s campaign finance reports.

I have no knowledge whatsoever where the tip came from. BUT – I almost wager dollars to donuts it involves the good old Bank Secrecy Act. Among other requirements, banks must report suspicious transactions to law enforcement.

In addition to the numerous felony and misdemeanour embezzlement and money laundering charges, Duran also faces counts of tampering with public records, conspiracy and violating the state’s Governmental Conduct Act…

Republican governor Susana Martinez said she has talked with Balderas about the charges against the secretary of state.

“These allegations are deeply troubling and concerning, and all relevant state agencies have and will continue to assist the attorney general throughout the process,” Martinez said in a statement…

State law requires that candidates’ reports list donations and expenditures. The public documents are also supposed to list the donations’ sources.

Balderas said his office had received only one criminal referral from the secretary of state for a violation of the reporting law.

A review by the Daily Times newspaper in Farmington also showed that Duran’s office collected only 4% of roughly 2,000 fines imposed on candidates during the 2012 and 2014 primary and general elections…

Duran, a former Otero County clerk and state lawmaker, is serving her second term as the state’s top elections official. She was the first Republican to be elected to the office in eight decades, inheriting an agency that had been plagued by scandal.

A stellar example of the inbuilt failings of our 2-party farce.

New Mexico voters – including many independents and progressives like me – voted for Duran as the only choice offered as an alternative to a Democrat Secretary of State notorious for her own corruption. The only reason she stayed in office was a Democrat AG – from one of our political royal families – who deliberately stalled out her indictments and trial until she could claim lack of timely due process and charges finally had to be dropped.

So, the Republicans offered up an alternative in Duran – when we would have voted for a prairie dog as an alternative to what Democrats offered.

What did we get? The same old, same old. More corruption, money laundering, embezzling payoffs. What do we need? An open primary system like those in many Western democracies, like the system used in California. We haven’t any independents or Greens capable of building a grassroots base for a 3rd or 4th party. At least let us have a primary system where the occasional Bernie Sanders-style independent might be allowed to run and win.

The corruption, liaison between thieves and reactionaries representing every interest but workers and working class families, has given us 2-party indoctrination for so many decades in American politics, young people must think real democratic participation is a foreign invention. To be feared, not embraced.

I’d love to be able to think of Election Day as an opportunity – not a half-hearted defense against the evil of two lessers.

9 thoughts on “New Mexico attorney general charges secretary of state with corruption

    • Bizzaro says:

      New Mexico’s secretary of state faces 65th charge: identity theft (NYT Oct 6th) http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na–ff-new-mexico-secretary-20151004-story.html “The New Mexico secretary of state, who oversees campaign finance reporting and once bemoaned a “culture of corruption” in the state, has been accused of using her election fund as a personal piggy bank at jewelry stores, ATMs and casinos. Secretary of State Dianna K. Duran already faces allegations of financial crimes, stemming from a separate August indictment. Late Friday, the New Mexico attorney general’s office alleged in a criminal complaint that Duran also falsified campaign finance reports by forging the name of a former state Senate colleague and claiming him as her campaign treasurer. The onetime colleague, Don Kidd, a banker in southeast New Mexico, denied any involvement with Duran’s campaigns in 2010 and 2014. When asked by an investigator with the attorney general’s office why she would list him as treasurer, Kidd replied, according to the complaint, “Well, I have no idea. I just don’t know, that’s amazing.”

  1. Update says:

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) – Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives are taking aim at New Mexico’s top elections official after allegations of fraud, embezzlement and money laundering were leveled against her by the state attorney general.
    House Democrats announced Monday they want to begin the impeachment process against Republican Secretary of State Dianna Duran. They’ve asked Republicans, who hold the majority in the chamber, for a meeting.
    See also http://joemonahansnewmexico.blogspot.com/

  2. Popskull says:

    ALBUQUERQUE — “Once an integral part of the Republican Party’s rise to power under Gov. Susana Martinez’s stewardship in this Democratic stronghold, the secretary of state, Dianna Duran, has now been abandoned by her party, threatened with impeachment by her political opponents and called on to resign by one of the state’s leading newspapers.
    Ms. Duran is facing 64 misdemeanor and felony charges, accused of misusing campaign money to cover gambling and other personal expenses, one of several scandals to have rocked New Mexico politics this summer.
    For Democrats, Ms. Duran’s fall from grace caps a string of scandals that have offered a chance to regain lost ground ahead of next year’s elections. They include the hiring of a man accused of child sexual assault as deputy schools superintendent in Albuquerque and an investigation over potential abuse of power by a senior state executive.” http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/09/us/politics/as-new-mexico-scandals-grow-democrats-hope-to-tarnish-governor.html
    “All calculations based on our experiences elsewhere fail in New Mexico.” Territorial Governor of New Mexico Lew Wallace, in a letter to his wife Alice, April 29, 1881.

  3. Eel says:

    Former chairman of the Republican party in N.M. says: “Presumption of guilt in Duran case is frightening.” http://www.nmpolitics.net/index/2015/09/presumption-of-guilt-in-duran-case-is-frightening/ Duran is scheduled to appear in court tomorrow to enter a plea. Her attorney has previously stated: “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” – also that “we have identified some serious potential violations of law by the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office, in conducting the investigation.”

  4. Update says:

    New Mexico secretary of state pleads not guilty to fraud http://www.abqjournal.com/644400/abqnewsseeker/nm-secretary-of-state-due-in-court-on-fraud-charges.html Embattled New Mexico Secretary of State Dianna Duran entered a not guilty plea today to charges of fraud, embezzlement, money laundering and other crimes for allegedly using campaign contributions to cover personal spending at casinos. Duran was stoic during the 30-minute appearance before District Judge Glenn Ellington. She did not speak to reporters while leaving the courthouse through a side exit, and her husband at one pushed away a television reporter’s microphone. During the hearing, Duran’s attorney raised several technical complaints about the charges filed against Duran, but the judge rejected motions to dismiss part or all of the case. Today’s hearing was Duran’s first court appearance since being charged last month with 64 total violations by Attorney General Hector Balderas’ office. She was released on her own recognizance, but the judge imposed conditions of release that included not leaving the state without the court’s approval and no entering gambling establishments. The next hearing in the case is set for Oct. 23.

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