The ACLU of New Mexico on Wednesday sued Secretary of State Dianna Duran, claiming she violated the open records law by withholding public information about alleged wrongdoing by voters.
To read the full text of the complaint, click here.
Duran, a Republican, told state legislators in March that she had evidence of possible voter fraud by 37 people. She said they had cast ballots in New Mexico elections but may not have been U.S. citizens. A day later, the ACLU filed a public information request to inspect the records so it could check Duran’s allegations. In its lawsuit filed in state district court in Albuquerque, the ACLU said that Duran’s staff then illegally concealed documents. The ACLU contends that Duran inappropriately invoked “executive privilege” and redacted requested emails and records so heavily that they were useless.
Executive privilege is intended to protect a small group of “senior officials engaged in a limited type of communication,” the ACLU said. It alleges that Duran violated the scope of the protection so she would not have to account to the public.
Ken Ortiz, Duran’s chief of staff and spokesman, did not return phone calls seeking comment on the lawsuit.
During a state legislative committee hearing last week, Sen. Rod Adair, R-Roswell, defended Duran’s denial of the records. He said she was being sensitive to the privacy rights of voters who were flagged for investigation.
But ACLU-NM executive director Peter Simonson said Duran had made irresponsible “hit-and-run allegations.”
“Without offering any proof, the secretary of state has undermined the public’s confidence in our elections system while hiding the evidence for her claims behind the cloak of executive privilege,” Simonson said.
Duran first told legislators that her suspicion about voter fraud was based on the fact that the 37 people she mentioned publicly were listed in the state Motor Vehicle Division’s “foreign national” database. But that database also contains the names of untold U.S. citizens who obtained New Mexico driver’s licenses with a form of identification other than a Social Security card.