The special committee tasked with looking into a possible impeachment of Secretary of State Dianna Duran will meet for the first time next week. Whether anything substantial will happen at this meeting is a good question—one we are still trying to find an answer to. State Reps. Zach Cook, R-Ruidoso, and Gail Chasey, D-Albuquerque are the co-chairs of the bipartisan special investigatory committee. Neither returned our calls and emails left for them Thursday afternoon and Friday morning.
Gov. Susana Martinez will jump out of a plane for campaign cash. This weekend, Martinez and her husband—first gentleman Chuck Franco—will take to the skies above New Mexico and skydive for a fundraiser for Speaker of the House Don Tripp, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported Friday. In a time where over a dozen Republican presidential campaigns and even more super PACs are jockeying for money, the leap of faith is one way to cut through the clutter and get attention for a fundraiser. From the New Mexican story:
Tripp’s son-in-law, Lonnie Gonzales, mowed a 450-foot by 450-foot zia symbol that will serve as the landing target in a 20-acre field. An invitation sent to Republican House members says the fundraiser will offer food, entertainment and the first-ever leap from a plane by Martinez and Franco.
Shortly following Secretary of State Dianna Duran’s first court appearance Tuesday morning, state lawmakers approved a House subcommittee to consider impeaching her. Lawmakers in the interim Legislative Council, which is made up of members of both the House and Senate, approved $250,000 in funding to pay for the impeachment special committee. The funding will likely go towards the hire of outside counsel. State House of Representatives Speaker Don Tripp, R-Socorro, appointed a panel of bipartisan lawmakers to investigate whether Duran should be impeached last week. He told committee members that he anticipated the panel would want money to spend on lawyers.
The leader of the House of Representatives named ten members to a panel that will look into the possible impeachment of Secretary of State Dianna Duran. Speaker of the House Don Tripp, R-Socorro, named five Democrats and five Republicans to the panel tasked with examining evidence against Duran and examine possible impeachment. Duran is facing possible impeachment, which in turn could lead to removal from office, for allegations that she moved campaign funds into personal accounts. The 64 charges from Attorney General Hector Balderas were filed in late August. The ten names on the committee are:
Sarah Maestas Barnes, R-Albuquerque
Gail Chasey, D-Albuquerque
Zach Cook, R-Ruidoso
Jim Dines, R-Albuquerque
Kelly Fajardo, R-Belen
Javier Martínez, D-Albuquerque
Bill Rehm, R-Albuquerque
Patricio Ruiloba, D-Albuquerque
Tomás Salazar, D-Las Vegas
Jeff Steinborn, D-Las Cruces
Chasey and Cook will be the co-chairs of the panel.
With calls for Secretary of State Dianna Duran to resign growing by the day, the talk is already starting to shift to who will next fill one of the most important elected statewide offices. Duran is facing 64 counts of criminal charges filed last week by Attorney General Hector Balderas for using campaign money for personal use. On Wednesday night, Speaker of the House Don Tripp, R-Socorro, said the State House members will explore impeachment proceedings even as many high-profile state Republicans, including Gov. Susana Martinez, are seemingly distancing themselves from Duran. New Mexico’s two largest newspapers also urged Duran to resign in editorials this week. As New Mexico Political Report previously reported, if Duran resigns or is impeached by the state Legislature, Martinez will have to appoint someone to fill the role.
Just days after House Democrats said they would explore the possibility of impeaching embattled Secretary of State Dianna Duran, Speaker of the House Don Tripp is informing other elected officials of his intention to have House members look into the possibility. Tripp, like Duran, is a Republican. Dianna Duran is facing 64 charges related to allegedly converting thousands of dollars of campaign funds into personal funds. Duran allegedly transferred over $10,000 to accounts she and her husband controlled using a variety of tactics. The indictment came down on Friday afternoon.
Gov. Susana Martinez signed a tax package on Monday afternoon that she says will create jobs throughout the state. Martinez, accompanied by those in the business community as well as legislators, signed the legislation in Albuquerque. The state Legislature passed the tax package last week overwhelmingly during a special session. The package failed to pass during the regular session earlier this year. “We must diversify our economy and grow our private sector, and that requires us to make it easier for those with great ideas to start a new business in New Mexico,” Martinez said in a statement.
It turns out that when Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, told New Mexico Political Report that a deal on capital outlay for capital outlay legislation and a tax package was near, he was very literal. Gov. Susana Martinez announced in a press release Wednesday afternoon, just hours after Smith said a deal was near, that the two sides reached an agreement and that she will call a special session. It will be just the second special session that Martinez has called since being in office, the previous one in 2011 dealt with the required decennial redistricting. The special session is tentatively scheduled for June 8, though Martinez’s office did not say it would for sure happen on that date. The capital outlay package will be $295 million in size.
House Republicans say there is no deal for a special session, despite reports to the contrary, leaving millions of dollars of capital outlay projects in limbo. Senate Democrats agreed to what they called a compromise deal late Thursday night. Speaker of the House Don Tripp issued a statement saying that there was no deal on Friday morning. “It is stunning that the Senate Democrats would publicly trumpet ‘mission accomplished’ on a capital outlay deal by agreeing to their own proposal when no one else even knows the details of the proposal,” Tripp said in the statement. “It’s unfortunate that the Senate Democrats would rather govern by press releases than engage in good faith negotiations with the House and the Executive.
Senate Democrats said a deal on capital outlay legislation is near and a legislators could be headed back to Santa Fe to pass the infrastructure funding bill. Update: House Republicans say there is no deal. Senate Democrats announced late Thursday night that they approved of a deal on capital outlay with House Republicans. The deal was made based on discussions between Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, who served as the Democrats’ chief negotiator, and Speaker of the House Don Tripp, R-Socorro, according to Demcorats. “The package restores funding to senior centers, higher education institutions, and tribal communities,” a release from the Senate majority said.