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NM cabinet official resigns after DWI arrest

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November 6, 2009 07:52 PM EST | AP


SANTA FE, N.M. — A top official in Gov. Bill Richardson's cabinet has resigned over a drunken driving arrest just days after she was appointed to a spot in President Barack Obama's administration.

Secretary of Aging and Long-Term Services Cindy Padilla submitted her resignation on Oct. 26. The governor's chief of staff requested the resignation because the administration has a zero tolerance policy for drunken driving, according to a Richardson spokeswoman.

In late October, Padilla was named principal deputy assistant secretary in the Administration on Aging, which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. She was to start Nov. 16, but that has been postponed at her request, department spokeswoman Vicki Rivas-Vazquez said Friday. No new start date has been set.

Padilla resigned her state cabinet post two days after Santa Fe police arrested her on drunken driving charges.

According to a police arrest report, Padilla's chemical breath tests showed a blood-alcohol level of .08 percent and .07 percent. New Mexico's standard for presumed intoxication is .08 percent.

Padilla earned $105,000 a year as head of the Aging and Long-Term Services Department, according to state records.

Michael Spanier is serving as acting department secretary.