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By Etta Pettijohn

The New Mexico Office of the Attorney General (AG) has notified Rep. Rebecca Dow (R-38) it is taking no further action at this time on an ethics complaint filed by her opponent just prior to the Nov. 4 election.

Karen Whitlock, a candidate for Dow's seat, filed complaints with both the AG and State Ethics Commission (SEC) last September, claiming Dow violated state conflict-of-interest and financial disclosure laws when seeking state grants for the non-profit Appletree Educational Center in Truth or Consequences, a faith-based early childhood education provider Dow founded more than 20 years ago.

After her election to the House in 2017 Dow worked as a grant writer for Appletree, but she resigned from that in 2019.

Officials with the SEC, established last year by lawmakers, notified both candidates last October it would likely dismiss some of those accusations because the Commission lacks jurisdiction over that time period.

Whitlock's complaint was filed during the Commission's blackout period, a 60-day window established in the law prohibiting it from responding to the complaint, or commenting on it publicly. The accuser can disclose a case, and the Whitlock campaign mailed out a news release to most media in the state immediately after filing.

Lawmakers debated forming an ethics commission for several years before finally creating one in 2019, with a lot of discussion centering around how to keep the body from being used by political candidates to discredit opponents.

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