Resigns amid scandal: Dianna Duran Resigns
Published: October 23, 2015
Resigns amid scandal: Dianna Duran Resigns, New Mexico Secretary of State Dianna Duran resigned Thursday night, according to her attorney and Gov. Susana Martinez’s Office.
Duran’s resignation comes amid a criminal case waged against her by the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office. Friday morning, Duran pleaded guilty to two felony embezzlement counts and four misdemeanor counts stemming from the misuse of her campaign funds.
“At midnight, Secretary of State Dianna Duran resigned from office. Until the Governor has had an opportunity to make an appointment, Deputy Secretary of State Mary Quintana will serve as acting Secretary of State,” Gov. Martinez’s spokesman Chris Sanchez said. “The Governor hopes to make an appointment in the coming weeks, which would serve as the Secretary of State until the 2016 presidential election. In the interim, our office will accept resumes and recommendations from the public, lawmakers, and other elected officials. In wake of Ms. Duran’s resignation, the Governor hopes we can come together and move forward as a state.”
Duran was elected in November 2010. She was the first Republican elected to the Secretary of State’s Office since 1928, according to the office’s website.
New Mexico GOP Chairman Debbie Maestas released the following statement Friday morning:
“We respect Dianna Duran’s decision to step down amid these recent accusations and help restore credibility to the Secretary of State’s Office. Voters rightfully demand that our elected officials be accountable to the law, and our party will continue to advocate for accountability in government.”
Viki Harrison, the executive director of Common Cause New Mexico, a group that advocates for an honest and accountable government, also released a statement:
“The resignation of the Secretary of State is the first critical step in rebuilding the public’s trust in our political system. Protecting the integrity of our elections and ensuring unbiased, non-partisan enforcement of campaign finance laws is the primary responsibility of the Secretary’s office. The Office of the Secretary of State is in charge of the most critical functions across the state to ensure the utmost integrity in our political process.”
KOB first learned of the resignation via a press release sent just before 1 a.m. Friday by the Democratic Party of New Mexico. It sourced an alleged email to unknown recipients from the Secretary of State’s Office’s Interim Election Director/Chief Information Officer Kari Fresquez.
The release also said a rulemaking hearing scheduled for Friday had been canceled because of Duran’s resignation. A special committee had been investigating whether there was enough evidence to impeach her for alleged misuse of campaign contributions.
The DPNM also posted the release to its website, Facebook page and Twitter account.
BREAKING: NM SOS Duran resigns Haaland: “We will have a strong Democratic candidate.” #nmpol https://t.co/6fG4CPtSTy pic.twitter.com/3HaaY1oNph
— DPNM (@NMDEMS) October 23, 2015
“As the governor is charged with appointing a Secretary of State, it is appropriate that he or she have the opportunity to shape the policy and rules of the office in order to successfully administer not only campaign finance, but also every other aspect of the office. Accordingly, the hearings are not being rescheduled at this time,” Fresquez wrote in the alleged email, which was sent at 11:18 p.m. Thursday.
The governor will have to appoint a new secretary of state. The next election for the office is scheduled for next year, so whoever is appointed will either have to run for re-election or spend what would likely be a little more than a year in office.
Democratic Party of New Mexico Chairwoman Deb Haaland had also issued a statement in the press release regarding Duran’s apparent resignation.
“In light of Secretary Duran’s apparent resignation, I am hopeful that we can move forward with a fair election in 2016, and that trust can be restored in the Secretary of State’s office,” Haaland said. “We will have a strong Democratic candidate that will take a hard look at the drop in voter participation in New Mexico as well as the other various issues facing the Secretary of State’s office.”
The Facebook page of Lonna Rae Atkeson, a professor in the Political Science Department at the University of New Mexico and Director for the Study of Voting, Elections and Democracy, also confirmed Duran’s resignation:
“Secretary of State Dianna Duran resigned late this evening clearing the cloud over her administration as plans begin for the 2016 election. It’s important for the integrity of our election system that this happened. I hope Governor Martinez quickly appoints a qualified successor who can raise the stature of the office,” she wrote.
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