Wednesday, February 23, 2011

SOS Duran Accuses Herrera of Contract "Irregularities"

Secretary of State Dianna Duran this afternoon said she has referred "several matters of serious concern" to State Auditor Hector Balderas. She's talking about “ a number of irregularities in contracts and purchasing processes conducted by the previous administration which appear to violate the New Mexico Procurement Code ..."

Duran also said that some documents appears to be missing from the office’s files. "Unless those documents are recovered, their disappearance could impair an independent audit that will be conducted later this year," a news release said.

Also, Duran said, data on some hard drives on office computers has been deleted. "The data, if not recoverable, is significant to the core operations of the Office of the Secretary of State," the release said.

Duran also raised the possibility that federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) funds were spent appropriately and whether timely reports were submitted to the federal government.

 “I intend to bring this office into full compliance with the law,” said Duran, “and so I am asking for an independent investigation by the State Auditor into a number of issues that appear to raise doubts.”

UPDATE: (3:35 pm)  Herrera, in a phone interview, disputed Duran's complaints.

She pointed out that in her office's last budget in June she got a clean bill of health with no findings.

Herrera said that after losing the election, she and her staff made a concentrated effort to have a smooth transition and said "went out of our way to leave everything in place," because, she said, there had been little communication between her staff and the staff of her predecessor, Rebecca Vigil-Giron. "I didn't want anyone to have to go through what I did," Herrera said.

Herrera denied that there are missing documents. She said that the contents of her computer and that of her deputy, Don Francisco Trujillo, were sent to the state archives. She also said Duran's staff has called Herrera's former staff to ask where certain things could be found.

"I don't know why (Duran) doesn't continue to move on," Herrera said.