September 16, 2015

Impeachment committee to meet before end of month

The special committee that will look into possible impeachment of Secretary of State Dianna Duran will meet on September 28, according to a press release from the two co-chairs of the committee.

DSC_0044The House Special Investigatory Committee will meet at 9:30 a.m. at the State Capitol for the first time. The committee is made up of equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans.

According to the release from Reps. Zach Cook, R-Ruidoso, and Gail Chasey, D-Albuquerque, the committee will discuss hiring legal counsel, the rules of procedure for the investigation, a hearing schedule and other matters.

“The committee understands the gravity of this task and is prepared to fulfill its duty responsibly,” the two said in a joint statement.

Duran is facing charges 64 counts related to funneling campaign funds to a personal account. She pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to the charges, making her first public appearance since the Attorney General announced the charges last month.

The complaint shows large amounts of money spent at casinos by Duran, some of which was allegedly improperly moved from campaign accounts to accounts controlled by Duran.

As Secretary of State, her office is in charge of enforcing campaign finance laws.

The Legislative Council approved $250,000 in spending for the House committee in a meeting on Tuesday morning, shortly after Duran appeared in court.

The House Special Investigatory Committee will make a recommendation over whether or not the full House should impeach Duran for crimes, misdemeanors or malfeasance in office.

No statewide official has ever been impeached. In the closest incident, of former State Treasurer Robert Vigil, he resigned before a committee could recommend whether or not to impeach him to the full House.

Vigil eventually went to prison on corruption charges.

An impeachment would take a vote from a majority of the full House.

If the House does vote to impeach, then the matter would move on to the Senate, who would serve as the jury in a trial, with the House serving as the prosecutor.