Friday, October 23, 2015

Dianna Duran Resigns

Faced with charges of violating campaign finance law and embezzlement, Secretary of State Dianna Duran resigned her position yesterday. Today, she followed up by pleading guilty to six counts as part of a plea deal that lets her escape jail time and keep her pension.

Duran's tenure was marked by her attacks on voting rights, like claiming 64,000 voters were not legally registered, and illegally removing the Green Party from the ballot after the 2012 election cycle.

But she will be remembered for her own abuse of campaign fundraising and spending. She apparently took money intended for her reelection campaign and used it for personal expenses, and in her first campaign, she falsely named as her campaign treasurer a person who did not serve in that capacity.

The Republicans had a golden opportunity in Duran to show how the office could be run ethically and efficiently. Duran's two Democratic predecessors both ran into trouble with finances, misusing federal money that could have been well spent to help increase voter awareness and participation.

Which begs the question, why do we allow partisanship in the office that oversees elections? Not only the Secretary of State, but all of New Mexico's county clerks, are extremely motivated by election outcomes, especially their own.

It is time for our state legislature to look not only at the merits of an independent ethics commission, but also at a way to take partisanship out of election oversight.

New Mexicans deserve nothing less.