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Ethics agency may dismiss some claims against legislator

Rebecca Dow

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – The State Ethics Commission is likely to dismiss at least some of the claims levied in a recent complaint against Republican Rep. Rebecca Dow because it lacks jurisdiction, according to a letter from the agency’s top executive.

But allegations that Dow did not properly report all of her income this year can proceed for now and will be referred to the Ethics Commission’s general counsel, who will make a recommendation on whether to grant Dow’s motion to dismiss them.

Jeremy Farris, executive director for the agency, said in a letter to the parties this week that the commission lacks jurisdiction for any conduct that happened before July 1 last year.

It’s probable, then, that the commission will dismiss the claims accusing Dow of violating the state Governmental Conduct Act and the procurement code, Farris wrote, because the contracts at issue were executed before that date.

Dismissal, he said, could come at the Dec. 4 meeting of the Ethics Commission.

But allegations of violating the state Financial Disclosure Act can proceed for now because at least some of Dow’s disclosure paperwork was filed this year, within the commission’s jurisdiction. Those allegations are the subject of a motion to dismiss, which Farris said would be reviewed by the commission’s general counsel and decided by a hearing officer.

Dow, for her part, has blasted the ethics complaint as politically motivated. It was filed by her Democratic opponent, Karen Whitlock, who is challenging Dow in a district that covers Truth or Consequences and Silver City.

In a written statement, House Minority Leader James Townsend, R-Artesia, said he was “disappointed to see the Ethics Commission become a tool to smear the good name of tireless public servants. I am confident that Rebecca Dow will rise above these outrageous claims.”

In an interview, Whitlock said she wasn’t disappointed by the letter and understood the finding that some of the material predated the commission’s jurisdiction.

Democratic candidate Karen Whitlock

As part of the complaint, she argues that Dow misrepresented her position as a legislator in state contract documents awarding work to AppleTree Educational Center, a nonprofit group Dow founded; Dow disputes the allegations.

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