Ex-Mora County clerk working for Jerome Block

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By David Giuliani

Former Mora County Clerk Charlotte Duran has a new job in Santa Fe.

She is the executive assistant to state Public Regulation Commission member Jerome Block, who started representing northern New Mexico on Jan. 1.

“I’m excited to be a part of the PRC and look forward to a career in state government,” Duran said. “It’s very different from being county clerk.”

She served as Mora County clerk for eight years, but she couldn’t run again because of term limits. She said she could have worked for her successor, Joanne Padilla, but she said that would have meant a big drop in pay.

Duran said she was introduced to Block, a Democrat, during his campaign last year, but Duran, who was the county’s top voting official, said she didn’t help him with his campaign in any way. She said he later asked her to interview for the executive assistant’s position.

Knowing her term was coming to an end, Duran said she asked Gov. Bill Richardson and U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, elected in November, to help her out with employment opportunities.

“I called a lot of people,” she said.

Duran said she has been commuting to her job in state government. “Maybe someday, I’ll come back to Mora to work,” she said.

Block said Duran was an obvious choice.

“I thought she had a lot to bring to the table. Getting to work with her I can see why people put their trust in her,” he said.

In last year’s election season, San Miguel County Clerk Paul Maez became tied to Block in a very public way.

Block’s campaign finance report revealed that he gave Maez $300 for campaign coordination and $2,500 to Maez’s band Wyld Country.

Block’s campaign stated that the $2,500 was for a performance at a campaign rally near Las Vegas in early May. But he couldn’t answer questions about the event or refused to provide names of those who attended, a crowd he estimated at 75 to 100.

Weeks before the election, Maez acknowledged that the rally never happened and revealed he gave the money back to Block months before, although that transaction never showed up in the candidate’s report.

After Maez’s statements, Block admitted to the Optic that he hadn’t been “forthcoming” on his report; PRC candidates’ campaigns are publicly funded so as to eliminate the influence of regulated industries. The Secretary of State’s office fined Block $21,000 for lying, among other violations.

In November, Block prevailed over his only opponent, the Green Party’s Rick Lass.

The state attorney general’s office, meanwhile, is considering whether to file criminal charges against Block.