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Dianna Duran resigns: How often do women resign amid scandals?

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Susan Montoya Bryan/AP/File

(Read caption) Former New Mexico Secretary of State Dianna Duran has pleaded guilty to embezzlement and other charges. She stepped down amid a fraud investigation alleging she siphoned hundreds of thousands of dollars from her election account to fund her gambling addiction.

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Dianna Duran pleaded guilty on Friday to two felony counts of embezzlement and four misdemeanors relating to her misuse of campaign funds.

In state district court in Santa Fe, Ms. Duran, who had served as the New Mexico secretary of state until the day before, admitted that she siphoned off hundreds of thousands of dollars from her election account and spent the money at casinos around the state. 

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According to a court document, investigators at New Mexico Attorney General Office conducted an investigation after receiving a confidential tip that numerous cash deposits had been made into Duran's account that were inconsistent with her known sources of income.

Duran withdrew more than $430,00 from ATMs at various casinos throughout New Mexico in 2013 and 2014, according to court records

Duran, a Republican who was in the middle of her second term as secretary of state, was one of New Mexico's highest-ranking elected officials.

New Mexico GOP Chairman Debbie Maestas said Friday that Duran's resignation will help restore credibility to the secretary of state's office.

"Voters rightfully demand that our elected officials be accountable to the law, and our party will continue to advocate for accountability in government," Ms. Maestas said in a statement.

This makes three New Mexico secretaries of state in a row who have faced legal troubles for their time in office, reports KOB 4 TV.

Duran's predecessor, Mary Herrera, faces two lawsuits after being accused of ordering employees to collect signatures for her failed 2010 re-election bid. Former Attorney General Gary King decided there wasn't enough evidence to prosecute her.

The secretary of state before her, Rebecca Vigil Giron, was accused of embezzling federal voter education money. She was indicted in 2009, two years after she left office.

As women fill more seats in public office, the number of women facing political and personal scandals has grown, too.

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Earlier this month, the former head of Chicago Public Schools Barbara Byrd-Bennett pleaded guilty to several counts of federal corruption for her alleged role in a scheme to steer more than $23 million in Chicago Public Schools (CPS) contracts to education-training companies in exchange for kickbacks and bribes worth about $2.3 million.

Ms. Byrd-Bennett faces 20 counts of mail and wire fraud, each of which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison – up to 400 years in total.

Last summer, a New York assemblywoman was forced out of office after pleading guilty to two felonies, the New York Times reported.

Gabriela Rosa admitted to committing bankruptcy fraud and accepting an illegal campaign contribution of $1,000 from an unnamed “representative of a foreign government.”

Ms. Rosa also admitted to entering a sham marriage with a United States citizen so as to obtain citizenship. She was sentenced to a year and a day in prison in October 2014.

A judge will decide if Duran should get probation or prison time in December.

Terri Apter, a psychologist at Cambridge university, told the Telegraph after a high-profile sex scandal that men and women have different reactions to power. "When men are in powerful positions they are saying, 'I have this power and I see this as a stable thing,' " she said, "whereas a woman who might be in a comparable position might say 'I am here today, how do I guard it, how do I maintain it, how do I prove I am worthy of it.' "

As more women fill legislatures and boardrooms, Dr. Apter's theories are being tested.


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