New Mexico House Speaker Don Tripp on Wednesday notified legislative leaders and state Attorney General Hector Balderas that he plans to form a committee to begin the process of impeaching Secretary of State Dianna Duran, whom Balderas charged late last week with 64 criminal counts, including embezzlement, fraud and tampering with public records. This “special committee,” said Tripp, a Socorro Republican, will try to determine whether there is enough evidence to impeach Duran, who is in her second term overseeing the office that administers election and campaign finance laws, among other duties. The case against Duran, filed late last week by Balderas, centers on allegations that she illegally transferred thousands of dollars in campaign funds to her personal bank accounts and falsified her own campaign finance reports. Tripp asked Balderas to share his case file on Duran with the committee after it is formed.
The Republican leader said the committee will be made up of an equal number of Republicans and Democrats. That has been the case in past impeachment investigations of state officials — Treasurer Robert Vigil and Public Regulation Commissioner Jerome Block Jr. — in recent years. Both Vigil and Block resigned before the House could impeach them.
House Democratic Leader Brian Egolf of Santa Fe said he expects the Legislative Council to approve the committee at its Sept. 15 meeting. Egolf said even though the Legislative Council vote won’t happen until the meeting, he thinks the House might announce the members of the committee before then.