Records show Dow failed to comply with investigation process in ethics complaint

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A state representative fought repeated efforts to get her to testify in an investigation into whether she violated government conduct and financial disclosure rules in connection with her work for a nonprofit she founded, records show.

Documents provided by the State Ethics Commission under a public records request reveal a months-long political and court battle between the commission and Rep. Rebecca Dow, R-Truth or Consequences, to get her to agree to an interview on allegations against her.

Dow, who is running for the Republican nomination for governor, finally agreed to an interview in October. Previously, she and her attorneys filed a string of appeals to try to prevent the deposition. State District Judge Jim T. Martin ordered her to appear before the commission in May, but she did not and instead agreed to start paying $50 a day in court-ordered fines for refusing to comply with Martin’s order.

In December the State Ethics Commission’s general counsel recommended the commission hold a public hearing to determine whether Dow failed to disclose how much money she had earned working with the nonprofit AppleTree Educational Center, a faith-based early childhood education provider Dow founded more than 20 years ago, and whether she used her legislative position to advocate for the nonprofit. 

Earlier this week, Sonny Haquani, a spokesman for the commission, said its hearing officer, former federal Judge Alan C. Torgerson, will set a date for the hearing after he reviews all the material related to the complaint.

The allegations stem from a September 2020 complaint by Karen Whitlock, Dow’s Democratic opponent in the November 2020 House District 38 race. Dow repeatedly has said the allegations are baseless and politically motivated.

Dow, who stepped down from running AppleTree early in 2019 but continued serving as a volunteer with the organization, said Thursday she has done her best to amend her financial disclosure form as requested by the ethics commission. 

“I have given to my community, not taken from it, and I’m not going to apologize for advocating for nonprofit populations in my county or across the state,” she said.

In September, Dow asked the state Court of Appeals to consider her challenge of the case. 

This is a developing story.