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Thursday, September 24, 2015

New Mexico's embattled secretary of state returns to work

New Mexico's embattled secretary of state returns to work

Updated: 09/22/2015 10:29 PM | Created: 09/22/2015 5:20 PM
By: Caleb James, KOB Eyewitness News 4
Facing criminal charges and allegations she gambled away $13,000 in campaign contributions, New Mexico Secretary of State Dianna Duran showed up for work in Santa Fe on Tuesday.
Duran has been at her office very few times over the last three weeks, but when KOB checked in with her staff Tuesday, a representative said she was there, and invited our crew to stop by.
But the very first thing Duran told our crew was that we needed to hurry, because she had a lot of work to do.
The interview was rushed; it was awkward, but it was Dianna Duran - in her own words:
"I'm here doing the job I was elected to do," she said.
Duran faces criminal charges and threats of impeachment.
But the secretary of state still casually greeted KOB outside her state capitol office Tuesday.
"The Secretary of State's Office has been extremely busy over the past few weeks," said Duran. "There's a lot that needs to be done and the staff is doing a great job of getting it all done," she said, citing upcoming election deadlines as a stress on the office, being worked on diligently by staff.

Duran admitted she hasn't been around much -- she says she spent "a few" days in the office over the past weeks, but insists she's been in almost-daily communication with her staff by phone.
An even less talkative Duran attended her first court appearance last week on charges she funneled thousands of campaign contributions into her own pocket -- gambling them away at New Mexico casinos.
She eluded KOB reporter Chris Ramirez for weeks. He even traveled to her Tularosa home as pressure trickled down from as high up as Governor Susana Martinez to answer to the allegations against her.
"If they are true, she should resign," said Gov. Martinez early this month.

But Duran brushed off questions about the governor Tuesday.

"I have not communicated with the governor," she said. "No. I am concentrating on the Secretary of State's Office."

But even as she offered praise for her diligent staff, Duran stood alone Tuesday.

"Do you have a gambling addiction?" asked KOB reporter Caleb James, referencing addiction statistics in New Mexico. "Do you want to reach out to those people? Do you want to say anything to them? 
Because you have such a high-profile position, and you could probably affect some change."
Duran declined to comment.
"As I'm sure you know, I have been instructed not to discuss or comment on anything related to the allegations against me," she said.
After a couple more minutes, Duran decided the interview was over.
"With that, you'll have to excuse me, but I have to get back into my office with my staff and get back to work, and that's what I'm here to do," she said, accepting a handshake, and turning to walk back inside her office.

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