ALBUQUERQUE, NM—Yesterday, the New Mexico State Court of Appeals upheld a district court opinion in a case brought by the ACLU which found that former Secretary of State Dianna Duran had violated state IPRA law by withholding public information. In 2011, Duran made allegations before the legislature that foreign nationals had committed voter fraud by voting in New Mexico elections. Due to the serious nature of her claims and their potential to undermine the public’s confidence in New Mexico’s elections, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Mexico filed a public records request for the documentation she claimed supported her allegations. After Duran steadfastly refused to provide the evidence, the ACLU of New Mexico filed a public records lawsuit in 2011. In 2014, a district court judge ordered the state to pay nearly $87,000 in attorney’s fees and costs based on its earlier finding in 2012 that Duran had violated state IPRA law. The district court's decision awarding fees and costs against former Secretary Duran was affirmed yesterday by the New Mexico Court of Appeals.
The following can be attributed to ACLU of New Mexico Legal Director Alexandra Freedman Smith:
“Today’s ruling is a victory for government transparency and accountability in our state. Rather than making the embarrassing admission that her claims were largely unsupported, Duran spent years attempting to hide information from the public and it has cost taxpayers dearly. We hope this ruling stands as a reminder to the state and other local governments that violating public records law has consequences.”