December 18, 2015

2015 Recap: Duran resigns, pleads guilty in October

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Joey Peters

Dianna Duran speaking to the press after her guilty plea in October, 2015.

Dianna Duran’s resignation and guilty pleas were the latest in what was one of the biggest stories of the year (if you want to see our top-ten stories, the countdown starts next week; spoiler alert: the Duran story is on there) and the latest in a busy, busy final few months of the year.

Dianna Duran after her guilty plea.

Joey Peters

Dianna Duran after her guilty plea.

Even after her guilty pleas, she still defended her public career and politicos throughout the state said it was time to move on. We looked at the next steps following her resignation and why Duran was able to keep her pension.

Earlier, Duran’s attorney tried to argue that the Attorney General should not be on the case, which the AG’s office called ‘prosecutor shopping.’ This came even as Balderas added a 65th count of identity theft to her charges.

Another big story that spanned the final few months of the year (and still continues, in fact) was over whether the Taxation and Revenue Department secretary was abusing her power by helping a former client. We confirmed in early October that Secretary Demesia Padilla at least wanted to come to the aid of one of her former clients. We also found more details on the scandal through a complaint against the department’s top attorney.

A TRD attorney, meanwhile, criticized the department for their lax redactions which allowed NM Political Report to see the name of the client at the center of the controversy.

We also had a short series on stories from Roswell, about the changing demographics in the very conservative city. The first looked at the surge of Latinos and the resulting political organization and the second looked at how Roswell businesses were changing in light of the new Latino surge. The political organizing also sought to reverse a trend of “abysmal” turnout in municipal elections.

An investigation by the Las Vegas Optic found the former superintendent of Mora Independent Schools District received his administrative license based on forged documents. One of the PED employees whose signature was on the document said she did not actually sign the document. A second employee later corroborated that claim. He later gave up his license.

We also examined if the doom and gloom over the federal government’s denial of a REAL ID waiver was warranted.

We also spoke to the State Auditor and a candidate for District Attorney who wanted to do something about the backlog of unprocessed rape kits.

City elections took place in Albuquerque, but with no mayor on the ballot and no races that seemed competitive, turnout was very, very low. We spoke to the candidates in the two contested council races the next day.

The city councilors themselves were feisty; one city councilor wanted to censure the city council president. The motion was withdrawn after an apology.

The state Department of Health approved twelve new medical marijuana providers. While the department provided their locations, they did not provide names for the providers.

Former State Senator Phil Griego was still spending campaign cash even though he was no longer in office and not running for office. The acting Secretary of State later wanted more information from Griego. More legislators saw their campaign finance reports receive scrutiny from the Secretary of State.

While tensions over Planned Parenthood simmered throughout the summer, stoked by edited, undercover videos released by an undercover non-profit, they started to come to a head in October.

U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce was among those who voted to make it easier for states to cut off Medicaid funding to the women’s health provider. We spoke to Vicki Cowart about the videos and more in October.

Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez said that a repeal of the law that allows undocumented immigrants to get drivers licenses in the state would again not make it through the Senate.

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