Thursday, September 15, 2016

Another ethics complaint, this one against Rep. Mark Lowery

Posted By on Thu, Sep 15, 2016 at 11:36 AM

ETHICS PROBE: Agency will review apparent late and incomplete campaign filings by Mark Lowery.
  • ETHICS PROBE: Agency will review apparent late and incomplete campaign filings by Mark Lowery.
Another complaint about lax campaign finance reporting has been filed against a Republican state representative, Mark Lowery of Maumelle.

Lindsay Brown of North Little Rock, who filed the complaint against Lowery, announced that he'd received confirmation from the Ethics Commission that he'd made sufficient factual allegations to prompt a further review by the commission staff.

Brown complained that Lowery filed multiple reports late, by times ranging from a week to three months, and that he still hadn't filed a quarterly report for one period in 2015.

Brown noted that Lowery was fined in January 2013 for failure to file a final report for his primary campaign and three monthly reports during the 2012 general election.

Said Brown in a prepared statement:

"It's ridiculous that a two-term State Representative would neglect to file his required financial reports for months and didn't even bother to file others," said Brown. "Maybe if Mark Lowery spent less time on Ashley Madison.com and more time following the law, he wouldn't be under investigation by the Ethics Commission."
I've asked Lowery for a comment. Democrat Bill Rahn is opposing Lowery in the November election.

UPDATE: Lowery said he'd provide a copy of his formal response when prepared and said he intended to file all reports leading up to the November election. He commented in passing that he'd noted the complaint against him was "notarized by agents of the AFL-CIO."

The Ashley Madison reference is to Lowery's appearance on a database of names from Ashley Madison, putatively a website aimed at attracting adulterers. In a statement at the time, he apologized for using the site to try to find "companionship" after a marital separation and said, "I never met anyone through the site and I never used what are typically portrayed as the more sordid aspects of the site."

As I mentioned yesterday in an item on a similar complaint against Republican Rep. Mike Holcomb, the GOP-controlled legislature has changed ethics law to allow legislators cited for late or erroneous filings to correct them when called to their attention. You might think a pattern of doing this over more than one election cycle might give cause for the Ethics Commission to question the sincerity of an "oversight" excuse.

The opening of the Ethics Commission acknowledgment of an investigation.
UPDATE: Here's Lowery's formal response:

Commission staff and members,
I am in receipt of the citizen’s complaint filed August 12 detailing various late filings of campaign contribution and expense reports.

First and foremost, I want to state that there has been no intent or attempt to conceal the sources and amounts of contributions or the expenses paid by the campaign. The late filings are simply errors of which I wish I could turn back the clock and correct. Unfortunately the “cure period” to correct reports does not afford me the opportunity to correct the report submittal dates.

The most significant of the untimely filings were due to my misunderstanding of the requirements to file during a primary election period in which I did not have an opponent. I was mistaken in believing that an end of campaign filing was all that was required in an unopposed election cycle.

As for any other untimely submittals referenced in the complaint I will just have to accept blame for a lack of attention to detail.

I will be glad to elaborate further should you need to speak to me privately or in a hearing before the commission but wanted to provide this short statement to acknowledge receipt of the complaint and provide some explanation.

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