September 30, 2015

AG no longer providing counsel to SOS

Courtesy photo

New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas.

Attorney General Hector Balderas will stop providing legal counsel to Secretary of State Dianna Duran as she battles 64 criminal charges his office filed against her in court.

New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas. Courtesy photo.

Courtesy photo

New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas. Courtesy photo.

Balderas is also returning 31 cases of potential campaign finance violations of state legislators and political action committees back to Duran’s office. Duran referred the 31 complaints to Balderas less than a week after he filed criminal charges against her in court.

Balderas notified Duran’s office of the change Tuesday afternoon.

“I am making this decision after careful consideration and even though I am confident that the [Office of the Attorney General] could otherwise handle the referrals competently and appropriately,” Balderas writes.

KOB-TV first reported on Balderas’ letter.

The Attorney General’s office typically represents state agencies in legal matters. Now Duran’s office will have to go elsewhere for counsel.

“Although not made lightly, I believe that the decision to discontinue our legal representation of the [Secretary of State] while the criminal proceedings are pending will facilitate the operations of both our offices,” Balderas writes.

Balderas notes that statute allows the Secretary of State to go to district attorneys for campaign violations and civil matters.

Duran’s office didn’t immediately respond to the letter when New Mexico Political Report contacted Chief of Staff Ken Ortiz Wednesday morning. We’ll update this post once they do.

Duran is facing 64 criminal counts revolving around charges that she transferred nearly $13,000 in her campaign coffers to her personal bank accounts. The charges also allege Duran withdrew hundreds of thousands of dollars from her personal bank accounts at several New Mexico casinos.

Duran pleaded not guilty to the charges in district court in Santa Fe earlier this month. A state House of Representatives Special Investigatory Committee is currently looking into impeaching Duran.

Read the letter in full below:

Balderas Letter by New Mexico Political Report