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Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Our Scandalized Summer Continues: Duran Impeachment Possible ButResignation Seen As More Likely; Angling The Legal Angles, Plus: SchoolDaze; Valentino Gets $80,000 Valentine On Way Out Door 

State House Democrats, relegated to the minority last year for the first time in 60 years, still don't quite seem to get the predicament they're in. In announcing that they are initiating the impeachment process against Secretary of State Dianna Duran following criminal charges made against her by Attorney General Balderas, the House Dems said:

House Democrats reached out to House Republicans as the first step in the impeachment process that can only begin in the House of Representatives.

"Reached out?" Not "called on them" to immediately join them in impeaching Duran if she refuses to resign? And if the R's don't join them charge them with tolerating the corruption? Hey, House Dems, this is politics not Emily Post etiquette.

Duran's attorney said Monday Duran will plead innocent and fight the allegations but did not comment on Duran possibly resigning.

Upon hearing the news of the impeachment drive GOP House Speaker Tripp nearly called out loud for Duran to resign. The Dems continue to fear that being aggressive with the R's will make them appear partisan and shrill but their critics say it actually makes them seem weak which in turn makes them lose elections.

The State Dem Party did put out a news release following the Duran charges. Let's take a look:

Unfortunately this case is only the latest in a series of charges and allegations that reflect a Republican war on good government in New Mexico. The ongoing scandal in the Department of Education relative to the Albuquerque Public School District and charges of ethical violations in the Department of Taxation and Revenue are reminders why the DPNM will fight hard to retake control of the state House and retain control of the state Senate in the 2016 election.

Pretty tough stuff. The problem? No news outlets carried it because no prominent Dem politicos backed it up.

And more from the Alligator pond on the Dems, the Guv and the scandals:

Joe, if I was running the Democratic Party right now I would be trotting out every single wonderful thing Susana Martinez ever said about Dianna Duran and hang it around Susana's neck. Not only would that finally start to weaken Martinez but it would build momentum around Duran's impeachment and help the House Dems' case. But it says something about the Dems that no one is grasping this opportunity to expose the Martinez administration for who they are.

Lily of Old Town has a question:

My question is why wasn't Duran's campaign treasurer been mentioned in connection with the charges? Duran's treasurer is Grace Gonzales of Alamogordo. I have been treasurer for three different campaigns. It is not a figure head position. I deposited all money, paid all the bills and reconciled the bank statements that were mailed to my address. If the candidate told me he/she had spent $30 of their own money for a campaign expense I had to get the receipt before I wrote them a check for reimbursement. When each state filing time came I inputted the information or supervised anyone else who put it in. Once done there is a button labeled "submit" which only I myself as treasurer can click on, certifying the information was correct to the best of my knowledge. We had no ATM or credit cards and even if we did each expenditure or money withdrawal would have come with a receipt for me to log. All I can assume is that Sec. Duran did her own and just told Ms. Gonzales it was done correctly or Ms. Gonzales has some questions to answer.

There's just too much to this deal for the Gators. One of them writes:

In 2011 Former Dem Secretary of State Mary Herrera was attacked by Secretary of State Dianna Duran accusing her of being a criminal. (From KOAT).

Herrera was defeated by Duran in 2010 when Herrera sought re-election.

SHE WILL GO

Republican political consultant Bob Cornelius writes from Texas that he expects Duran to resign rather than face impeachment. Here's why:

Joe, I think Duran will resign s part of a plea deal to reduce the charges to those below the felony level. That way she keeps her government pension.

An important point, Bob.

And can Duran beat the rap? A Legal Beagle comments on the efforts of Duran's attorney to poke a hole in the AG's case:

The "motion to dismiss the complaint" I suspect will include the allegation that credit card records or bank records such as checks, deposit slips or wire  transfers to and from private accounts were obtained without of valid search  warrant. What you are dealing with are allegations of "white collar" crime, and  such crimes are proven with a paper trail. You follow the money flow and transactions. If the bank records are suppressed as evidence by a judge, there is no evidence of a crime and the case would be dismissed.

INK STAINED AND IRKED

A self-described "ink stained wretch" writes of the criminal charges brought against Secretary of State Duran:

Give Attorney General Balderas credit for waiting until a Friday afternoon to drop the hammer on the secretary of state and for not holding a news conference to do so. Can't accuse him of political grandstanding, eh? But where's New Mexico's leading newspaper? Yeah, this hit page one on Saturday although no choice there. The preventive-detention and bail-bond story that headlined Sunday is important, too, but they couldn't find space for a follow up on a major political/criminal scandal? (The New Mexican had three reporters on it for Sunday). If Dianna DurĂ¡n has a gambling addiction, she's entitled to some sympathy, but she also holds one of the highest public offices in the state, one requiring absolute above-reproach integrity. For the Journal to treat this as a one-day story and walk away is not only shameful, it adds credence to what some perceive as news management's political agenda masquerading as journalism.

Another reader writes:

I am appalled that that some of your readers made the comment that because the news of Duran's criminal charges came out on a Friday  afternoon that the Attorney General may be playing footsie with the Fourth Floor. The Attorney General is probably one of the most ethical politicians I know and would not do any favors for the Governor or the shadow Governor. Attorney General Hector Balderas has done more in office the first 8 months of his term than the previous Attorney General. 

Others praised Hector for being professional and not turning the charges into a "political circus."

And a differing view:

It looks like some have AG Balderas totally pegged--he's cherry picking his way carefully around the stench of corruption in an around the Governor's 's office, hoping to dodge her trigger-happy heavy artillery while he bides his time to run for governor himself.

SCHOOL DAZE

There's also been the "stench of corruption" at the ABQ Public Schools, with the embattled Superintendent Luis Valentino being forced to resign. But the $80,000 payout ($100,000 when a final month's salary is included) he got to get outta town had social media exploding with condemnation of the school board and Valentino who told the media when he took the job three months ago that he would not take any buyout if things did not work out. What happened to "Character Counts?" And the board is going to give this fella a reference? Nice work if you can get it. . .

There's still the matter of APS Chief Financial Officer Don Moya accusing the Governor and the education secretary in a lawsuit of being responsible for the hiring of alleged pedophile Jason Martinez as deputy superintendent which led to Valentino's disgrace and resignation. The Guv's office says that's absurd but exploration of the Moya charge could refuel the scandal down the road.

Meanwhile, It's time for a new Super. Just about all of them in the past 25 years has been a bust. If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result, the ABQ school boards of past and present could go for some electric shock treatment.

And longtime APS critic Ched Macquigg has the money line from the settlement agreement with Valentino:

Stake and interest holders will be happy to know that, though it's going to cost us a few hundred grand; nobody did nothin'. From the settlement agreement: 12. Nothing in this Agreement or in its execution admits wrongdoing of any kind by either party."

See. Nobody done nothin'.

Gosh, it was all just a bad dream. Glad to hear that.

Carmie Lynn Toulouse writes of the Monday APS school board meeting:

I am disturbed that the board appears to have violated The Open Meetings Act. They cannot take any votes in executive session. They must go into a public meeting to vote. They needed a vote to accept Dr. Valentino's resignation. They needed a vote to appoint an interim superintendent. They needed a vote to approve any separation agreement with Dr. Valentino. They needed a notice of the public meeting, 24 hours notice for an emergency meeting, 72 hours for all other public meetings. These notices needed an attached agenda, you can't vote on anything not on the public agenda. Did I happen to miss all of these notices?

THE THING

According to Santa Fe, the thing is The Thing On Donald Trump's Head." Feel free to sing along.

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