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Oklahoma Ethics Commission votes Friday to withdraw its public reprimand of former DHS Commissioner Steven Dow

Oklahoma Ethics Commission withdraws public reprimand of Steven Dow.
by Randy Ellis Modified: June 15, 2012 at 9:03 pm •  Published: June 15, 2012

The Oklahoma Ethics Commission voted Friday to withdraw its public reprimand of former DHS Commissioner Steven Dow, citing newly discovered evidence that the alleged ethics violation was “inadvertent.”

“I am grateful that the Members of the Ethics Commission were willing to convene a special meeting and reconsider their decision,” Dow said in a prepared statement released after the ruling. “I appreciate their action today and am obviously pleased that they withdrew the reprimand.”

Dow resigned from the Oklahoma Commission for Human Services on May 30, one day after the Ethics Commission publicly reprimanded him for serving as a DHS commissioner at the same time he was the unpaid chief executive officer of the Community Action Project of Tulsa County, a nonprofit agency that contracts with DHS to provide day care and child education services.

The Ethics Commission found that to be a conflict of interest when it issued its public reprimand.

Future remains unclear

Dow's attorney, Robert McCampbell, said the Ethics Commission's reversal does not mean that Dow will get his DHS Commission job back, since Dow tendered his resignation to the governor.

The Ethics Commission voted 4-1 to withdraw its public reprimand, with Commissioner Tom Walker casting the lone dissenting vote.

Dow did not attend Friday's Ethics Commission meeting.

Members of the Ethics Commission refused to disclose the new evidence, citing commission secrecy laws. Walker also declined to discuss the reason for his dissent.

In Dow's resignation letter to the governor, he wrote that he was “surprised and disappointed” by the Ethics Commission's decision.

Disclosure was made

Dow wrote that he had informed then-Gov. Brad Henry's office of the potential conflict when Henry first appointed him, and said Henry's “legal counsel and chief of staff thoroughly investigated and researched the matter, concluding that there was not a violation of any provision of the Constitution or statute.”

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by Randy Ellis
Investigative Reporter
For the past 30 years, staff writer Randy Ellis has exposed public corruption and government mismanagement in news articles. Ellis has investigated problems in Oklahoma's higher education institutions and wrote stories that ultimately led to two...
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