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SANTA FE – The general counsel for the State Ethics Commission found probable cause to conclude that Rep. Rebecca Dow – a Republican candidate for governor – violated state law by failing to properly disclose her income from a nonprofit group that received state funding, among other allegations, according to documents released Friday.
The findings aren’t a final decision. The case now goes to a retired judge who will serve as a hearing officer to consider the allegations.
Dow vigorously disputes the claims against her and said she is being targeted for political reasons.
“I’m looking forward to the opportunity to have a hearing before a judge, rather than a continued witch hunt by the staff employed at the ethics commission,” she said late Friday. “The public documents will show the great lengths the employees at the office of the state ethics commission went to find fault against me, a Republican, while blatant unethical acts by Democrats in power are quickly dismissed.”
Dow joined the state House in 2017 and launched a campaign for governor last year. She was seeking reelection in 2020 when the ethics complaint was filed.
In 390 pages of documents released Friday, Walker Boyd, general counsel for the ethics commission, said he had found probable cause to conclude that Dow violated the state Financial Disclosure Act by failing to report over $5,000 in gross income from AppleTree Educational Center in 2019 and by not disclosing the nature of her work for the center.
Dow is the founder and a former CEO of AppleTree, a nonprofit that serves children and families in Sierra County, according to Boyd’s investigation, and most of its revenue comes from state grants and contracts.
Boyd also found probable cause to support allegations Dow had represented the center before three state agencies, in violation of the Governmental Conduct Act. State law limits when legislators may represent a client before a state agency.
In her own ethics filings, Dow contends she consulted with the attorneys for the Legislative Council Service on how to file her disclosure forms and was told she didn’t need to list AppleTree. She also says she made so little as a consultant to AppleTree that she wasn’t required to report it.
The state Financial Disclosure Act requires lawmakers and other officials to file annual reports broadly outlining their sources of income exceeding $5,000 and whether they’ve represented any clients before state agencies.
The allegations against Dow are part of a complaint filed in September 2020 by Karen Whitlock, Dow’s Democratic opponent that year. Some of the allegations were dismissed previously and are no longer part of the case.
But the probable cause findings are set to be the subject of a public hearing before retired U.S. Magistrate Judge Alan C. Torgerson.
Boyd said he had found evidence suggesting Dow had violated another law – centering on the regulation of lobbyists – but that he isn’t forwarding the allegation to the hearing officer because it wasn’t one of the accusations in the original ethics complaint.