By Etta Pettijohn

The Secretary of State's Office (SOS) last week released a statement stating Rep. Rebecca Dow (R-38) is in compliance with legal and ethical requirements for disclosing financial information.

Dow's unsuccessful Democratic opponent in the 2020 House District 38 race, Karen Whitlock, filed a complaint with the State Ethics Commission (NMEC) during the campaign period, accusing Dow of violating conflict of interest and financial disclosure rules while seeking state grants for the nonprofit Appletree Educational Center, a faith-based early childhood education provider the lawmaker founded more than 20 years ago.

Dow claimed the accusations were politically motivated, and deliberately filed during the Commission's blackout period, a 60-day window established in the law to prevent political candidates from filing frivolous complaints to be used as political weapons.

While the Commission is prohibited from responding to the complaint or commenting on it publicly during this period, the accuser can disclose a case, and Whitlock contacted most media in the state with the accusations the week she filed the complaint.

This was followed by campaign advertising claiming the accusations were true, even though the Commission had yet to act on the complaints.

The Ethics Commission dismissed all but one of Whitlock's claims last July, because the complaints Whitlock listed were out of its jurisdiction (the legislature only created the board in 2019), and the claimed acts occurred years before Dow was elected to public office.

Elections Director Mandy Vigil said that office recommended Dow make one more amendment to a 2016 financial statement to be fully compliant, which Dow said had been done.

The State Ethics Commission oversees state laws on campaign finances, lobbying, financial disclosures and other areas of public official's conduct. It does not comment on pending complaints unless it finds evidence of wrongdoing, and never publicly commented on any of Whitlock's claims.

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