Thursday, March 31, 2011
(Updates) New Mexico PAC Calls for Immediate Resignation of SOS Dianna Duran for Racist "Humor"
Update 2: The AP reports that SOS Dianna Duran has placed a state employee who works in her office on leave in response to this controversy, and has issued a statement saying the racist "humor" was "deeply offensive" toward two African-American legislators. Duran also said she "will not tolerate any form of racism or bigotry." Still unanswered are the questions of why a staffer in Duran's office would feel comfortable putting demeaning language on a state form, and why nobody caught it before it was posted online and sent out in the mail to political action committees around the state.
Update 1: Since I published this post, the Secretary of State's website has taken down the offending spreadsheet. Here is a pdf of the original document that resided on the site, as noted below.
Is this Republican Secretary of State Dianna Duran's macaca moment?
Today, the New Mexico-based Justice League PAC called for the immediate resignation of Secretary of State Dianna Duran for racist jokes aimed at two African-American legislators in her political reporting form required of all New Mexico political committees.
The Justice League PAC says it received a packet in the mail yesterday from Duran’s office with instructions for filing the bi-annual campaign report for state political committees, due April 11, 2011. The packet contained instructions to download an Excel spreadsheet from the Secretary of State’s website (http://www.sos.state.nm.us/sos-pacs.html then click “2011 PAC Filing Form for April 11, 2011 Report”).
The Excel spreadsheet (xls) contains the following racist language in the “Monetary Contrubutions” (sic) tab, targeting African-American state legislators Rep. Sheryl Williams Stapleton (D-Albuquerque 19) and Rep. Jane Powdrell-Culbert (R-Albuquerque 44):
National Organization of the Beer Drinkers and Guzzlers
“Sheryl Powdrell-Culbertson” is obviously a merger of the names of the aforementioned African-American legislators and “JeffersonDavis” was the President of the Confederated States of America.
Commenting on the insulting characterizations and languge in the spreadsheet, Justice League PAC Treasurer Eli Il Yong Lee said, “I was shocked when I downloaded Secretary Duran’s spreadsheet this morning to find such racist comments on a State document. Secretary Duran should be ashamed of herself. We expect more from elected officials. There is no place for racism in New Mexico, much less in a state office. She should resign immediately.”
An Emerging Pattern of Wedge-Issue Bigotry?
We're in only the third month of Secretary of State Duran's first term and she has already been heavily criticized and challenged on her announcement late in the just-ended legislative session that she had started comparing driver's license lists provided by Gov. Susana Martinez with voter rolls, and claimed she had already found examples of possible voter fraud by undocumented immigrants. Nothing to back up that claim, of course, but it served to once again call attention to the immigrant wedge issue and another right-wing favorite, "voter fraud" -- both of which have been used extensively during the campaigns of Duran and Gov. Susana Martinez and beyond.
Duran's unsubstantiated claims even prompted the ACLU NM to file a massive document request so they can investigate what's really going on related to Duran's statements. The Bernalillo County Clerk's office filed a similar document request.
By emphasizing hot-button ethnic-racial and immigrant issues like driver's licenses for foreign nationals, the targeting of immigrants by law enforcement and immigrant "voter fraud," the Martinez administration, Republicans in the legislature and the Secretary of State's office have clearly helped to create a racially and ethnically charged negative atmosphere in the state. Local right-wing radio talk shows have featured invective-filled "discussions" about immigrants, Democratic lawmakers have reported receiving large numbers of phone and email messages containing hate speech and threats in response to their refusal to support the repeal of driver's licenses for foreign nationals -- and now this.
Clearly, at least some of the staff in the Secretary of State's office have picked up on the atmosphere of bigotry unleashed in New Mexico by the political maneuvering of Dianna Duran herself and other right-wing politicos, and thought it was funny -- and acceptable -- to inject racial insults into an official document issued by the office. Especially in a multi-ethnic state like New Mexico, it's horrible to encounter something this offensive and unconscionable emerging from a government office.
Call for Duran's Resignation
I believe all New Mexicans of conscience should join in the call for Dianna Duran to immediately tender her resignation and apologize for the racism contained in the spreadsheet. New Mexicans should not be expected to tolerate this "macaca moment" -- or the hateful atmosphere that evidently produced it. This is not Arizona and we cannot permit our state to become another outlet for the kind of wedge-issue hate offensives typified by the Republicans who are in power in our neighboring state to the west. We have to nip it in the bud right now.
Take Action: Call the Secretary of State's office at 505-827-3600 and the Governor's office at 505-476-2200 and demand that Dianna Duran immediately resign her post due to the racist material released by her office.
The Justice League PAC is a statewide political committee and was formed by Neri Holguin, Sandra Wechsler, Eli Il Yong Lee, Keegan King and Antionette Tellez-Humble, who have years of experience in New Mexico politics and issues. For more information, please go to www.justiceleaguepac.com.
OMG! Damned right Duran should resign! How does she run her office-like a kindergarden class? I thought this kind of "humor" went out in the 1950s.
Posted by: Rudy | Mar 31, 2011 1:15:10 PM
This is what dog whistles to the haters always create. People come to think that it's fine to make racist "jokes" and use hate speech because politicians put that message out with actions targeting minorities. Go to any right wing blog or any comment section of an online newspaper and the language and attitudes will make you sick to your stomach.
Posted by: Sean | Mar 31, 2011 2:12:08 PM
Shame on Dianna Duran. Even if she didn't know about this she or someone on her staff should have, and reported it. I would love to be a fly on the wall over there to hear the kind of "jokes" that are told in her office day in and day out. What next?
Posted by: Lori | Mar 31, 2011 2:52:12 PM
There absolutely has to be zero tolerance for officials who, while representing the public's business, indulge in making fun of someone in a racist manner. Absolutely Zero. Tolerance.
If Governor Martinez does not fire her immediately, she will bear responsibility for this.
Zero. Tolerance. Or it will continue and will ge worse.
Posted by: Stuart Heady | Mar 31, 2011 3:19:56 PM
Can one drop the f bomb in this venue?
Seriously, WTF is the only comment I can make.
The reality is Duran will find some sort of plausible deniablity.. but she damn sure had better make a very public apology and make heads roll... both the person who
put it in there, and their supervisor, who should have found the joke... Unbelievable....
Posted by: Claudia Anderson | Mar 31, 2011 3:42:18 PM
Sorry, the Governor can't fire the Secretary of State, since she didn't hire her -- the SOS runs independently. Remember how hard it was to get rid of State Treasurer Michael Montoya a few years ago, even though he had been indicted?
Posted by: Michelle Meaders | Mar 31, 2011 4:53:39 PM
Susanna Martinez may not be able to fire Duran but she can certainly speak out publicly against what she and her office did. And she can encourage Duran to do the right thing and resign. Anyone heard from the governor today?
Posted by: Old Dem | Mar 31, 2011 4:56:47 PM
Duran made the front page of the Alamogordo Daily Snooze and not in a good way. The "Buck" stops with the SOS. I guess we will see what happens.
Posted by: Stephanie DuBois | Apr 1, 2011 3:10:12 PM