As state lawmakers continue to take steps toward possibly impeaching Republican Secretary of State Dianna Duran, legislators and their staffs have only a few recent legal cases as well as vague constitutional language to draw from. Duran, who faces criminal charges on 64 counts of fraud, money laundering and other crimes related to her campaign finances, would be the first statewide elected official impeached by the Legislature if the process goes through. Recent impeachment proceedings against then state treasurer Robert Vigil in 2005 and Public Regulation Commission member Jerome Block Jr. in 2011 were cut short when the implicated officials resigned.
“Really there is nothing in statute or in the constitution or in rule that tells you how to conduct an impeachment proceeding,” said Raúl Burciaga, director of the Legislative Council Service, whose nonpartisan staff members are poised to assist a special subcommittee announced by House Speaker Don Tripp, R-Socorro. The panel will be charged with gathering evidence that could lead to Duran’s impeachment.
Burciaga said that besides the two recent cases, researchers could only identify one other impeachment proceeding, which involved a judge in 1925. But there is no evidence the Legislature impeached the judge.
The state constitution states that impeachment power resides in the House of Representatives, which must cast a majority vote on articles of impeachment. If that happens, the state Senate conducts a trial. A two-thirds majority of sitting senators is required to remove the official from office.