We Deserve to Have Confidence in NM Government

By Joe Kabourek, Executive Director / Democratic Party Of New Mexico

Reposted from the Albuquerque Journal. September 20, 2015

In a guest column last weekend, former Republican Party of New Mexico Chairman Harvey Yates accused Attorney General Hector Balderas of politicizing the state’s case against Secretary of State Dianna Duran. Duran faces 64 counts against her, including embezzlement, fraud, money laundering and campaign finance violations. Newspapers across the state, like the Santa Fe New Mexican and the Las Cruces Sun-News, have called for Duran’s resignation.

Everyone agrees that Secretary Duran deserves her day in criminal court to make the state prove its case against her. That’s why Balderas is seeking to present evidence to a neutral judge, who will determine if such evidence is sufficient to allow the state to proceed with its case. The remaining question is whether small businesses and voters across our state can depend on their secretary of state to fairly enforce the same rules that she is accused of violating.

New Mexicans deserve to have confidence in their government. Ethical concerns aside, it’s clear that the secretary is incapable of restoring that confidence. The Albuquerque Journal ran a story last week stating that Duran hasn’t shown up to the office since the charges were filed. Perhaps Yates, a significant financial contributor to Duran’s campaign, could write a column explaining how Duran can fight for small businesses and New Mexico voters if she can’t be bothered to show up for work.

Unfortunately, it is no surprise to see Yates and his Republican allies try to smear the attorney general because Yates has misfired on character judgments before. In 2010, Yates steered $25,000 to Gov. Susana Martinez’s campaign only to be later disappointed by ‘impropriety’ within the administration. While Yates, to his credit, ultimately called out the governor’s corruption, his initial judgment here is similarly wrong.

Balderas should be lauded for his transparent approach to this challenging prosecution. Instead of holding a press conference in front of the cameras, he issued a brief statement late on a Friday afternoon, hardly an opportune method or time for political posturing. In keeping with his focus on his constituents, neither the attorney general nor his office gave any advance notice to the Democratic Party of New Mexico.

Balderas’ workman-like approach stands in stark contrast to the Republican “War on Good Government” currently underway in Santa Fe. Whether it’s the recent ethical problems in the governor’s Taxation and Revenue Department or the Public Education Department’s meddling in the Albuquerque Public Schools, New Mexicans rightfully question whether their state government is looking out for them.

Duran, either through ethical lapses or a failure to simply show up for work, is now part of the problem, too. Yates would be wise to learn from his disappointment in the governor’s administration and join the attorney general in his fight against public corruption.