Supervisor Rowe Last Year Purchased $1.19 Million Home In Redlands

Supervisor Dawn Rowe last year spent $1.19 million in purchasing a home in one of the more exclusive neighborhoods in San Bernardino County.
That acquisition, coupled with Rowe’s affiliation with former supervisor and convicted political corruption figure Bill Postmus, who is currently actively engaged in electioneering fund laundering for a number of regional elected officials, triggered widespread rumors and reports suggesting Rowe obtained the house through the use of dark money that had been diverted into her personal account from her political war chest.
Rowe, however, this week offered a credible explanation of how she was able to buy the home using wealth she has accumulated over the last two-and-a-half decades.
Rowe has been a political figure in San Bernardino County since 2010, when she ran successfully for the Yucca Valley Town Council.
Rowe’s backstory is that she and her husband Alan Rowe, a Marine captain with whom she had a son and a daughter, had come to Morongo Valley and established a residence in Yucca Valley when her husband had been stationed at the Twentynine Palms Marine Base. Previously, the Rowes had lived at various Marine and Naval installations around the country.
On September 3, 2004, Alan Rowe, then on his second deployment in Iraq, was killed in action while securing a bridge in Anbar province. Dawn Rowe decided to remain in Yucca Valley and raise her children, then 5 and 3, seeking to make her family’s way in the world by subdividing and developing property. Her efforts in that regard bogged down in governmental red tape and regulations, with some of her projects stymied or outright rejected at the planning commission and city council level. Frustrated, she approached Chad Mayes, then Yucca Valley’s mayor, who took her at her word that she wanted to make changes and appointed her to the Yucca Vally Planning Commission. Thereafter Rowe ran successfully for the town council. In that capacity, she met Paul Cook, then an Assemblyman who had previously been Yucca Valley Mayor. Cook in 2012 successfully ran for Congress, and she went to work for him as his field representative. She left the town council in 2014, but in 2018, applied, along with 48 others, to serve out the final two years of James Ramos’s term as Third District San Bernardino County supervisor following his election to the Cailfornia Assembly that November.
Ultimately, Rowe was selected to the supervisor’s post. She thereafter installed into key positions on her supervisorial staff members of Congressman Cook’s office with whom she had worked while on his Congressional staff.
Two of those included Matt Knox as her chief of staff, and Dillon Lesovsky, as her policy advisor.
Knox and Lesovsky were ruthless political operatives, with extensive work experience on Cook’s campaigns, who both understood the pay-to-play ethos in the nation’s capital, by which defense contractors and other manufacturers and major government vendors trade contributions to politicians’ electioneering funds for legislative action benefiting them. Two years later, when Rowe had to seek election in the 2020 race, Cook himself had decided to join her on the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors and he forsook his position in Congress to run for Frist District supervisor. With Knox, Lesovsky and two staffers that had remained in Cook’s office when Rowe and Knox had departed in 2018, Tim Itnyre and Dakota Higgins, there was a collective involvement involved in the 2020 Third District and First District supervisorial races.
That effort was joined by Bill Postmus, himself once a First District supervisor turned county assessor whose political career came to an end after he was indicted and convicted of 14 felony political corruption charges. Picking up on the way that Rowe and Cook were importing the large-scale selling of political influence that takes place in Washington, D.C. to San Bernardino County, Postmus, who had created his own independent political money laundering entity, a Wyoming corporation called Mountain States Consulting Group, brought himself into association with both Rowe and Cook. By doing so, Postmus calculated, he could ensure that when the time came Rowe and Cook would smile upon his clients, who were seeking to obtain no-bid county contracts and go-ahead on development projects oftentimes involving low interest or no interest government loans that needed approval from the board of supervisors.
In general, Postmus continued to prove himself as being adept at obtaining county cooperation in advancing the business undertakings of his clients, who were simultaneously complying with his instructions for them to make substantial political donations or kickbacks which he laundered to the elected officials voting to allow those projects to proceed.
Approved by the county’svoters in the 2020 election cycle was Measure K, which reduced the supervisors’ total annual compensation from $264,150.94, consisting of a $166,235.67 salary, pay add-ons and perquisites of $17,653.95 and $80,261.32 in benefits to a substantially lower total annual compensation of $60,000, consisting of $50,000 in salary and $10,000 in benefits, while limiting supervisors to a single four-year term. Measure K passed with 66.84 percent – a supermajority of more than two-thirds – in the November 2022 election.
While that the county was seeking a determination through the courts of whether Measure K could be set aside on legal grounds, the prospect that the supervisors would see a dramatic reduction in their pay going forward hung over the county and, in particular, the board members.  At that point, on January 12, 2021, Rowe, who had not remarried following Alan Rowe’s death and was the sole earner in her household, purchased a custom built, two-story, five bedroom with two master bedrooms, five bath 4,437 square foot home with a formal entry, living room, exercise room, two family rooms, maid’s quarters, laundry, library, office, kitchen with a walk-in pantry, a master suite and a retreat on 1.61 acres in eastern Redlands.
As it was a private sale, no note of Rowe’s acquisition of the mansion was immediately made. In May, 2021, however, word leaked out, after which a round of speculation and conjecture followed. Rowe in multiple votes and actions as supervisor had joined with her board colleagues in assisting Psotmus’s clients in achieving goals that involved county governmental approval. In the Summer of 2021, the Sentinel initiated inquires with Rowe relating to her purchase of the home, including reports that Postmus had assisted her, through the application of money provided by his clients, in purchasing the home. Rowe, made an initial, tentative and incomplete response to those inquiries, saying she would be willing to answer the questions about why she had left Yucca Valley, how she was able to afford the new home on a single salary that was being reduced to roughly $50,000 per year, persistent reports that her pay as supervisor was being augmented by money provided to her by individuals and entities with business before the board of supervisors and what her relationship with Postmus was. When the Sentinel made follow-up efforts to conduct the interview Rowe said she was amenable to engaging in, she consistently, for the next five months, refused to take the calls or return them, and her staff formed itself into a type of praetorian guard that made it impossible to approach her.
Last month, a crescendo of suggestions that Postmus was purchasing influence from three of the county supervisors – First District Supervisor Cook, Rowe and Fourth District Supervisor Curt Hagman – grew to an almost deafening dimension.
The Sentinel reinitiated the effort to reach Rowe, at which point she made a return call to the Sentinel on March 28.
Rowe spoke freely with regard to her purchase of the home and her interaction with Postmus until the conversation was cut short by her need to engage in a conference call. Subsequently, through an email exchange, Rowe allowed her statements with regard to her purchase of the home and quotes relating thereto to stand, but she requested that statements relating to the other issues the Sentinel had obtained from her during the interview not appear in the article as quotations.
The timing of the home’s purchase, Rowe said, was driven by the consideration that there was no longer a need, practical or emotional, for her to remain in the Yucca Valley home she had lived in for nearly two decades. “My kids moved off to college, so I sold the home where I raised them,” she said. “I still have property in Yucca Valley I hope to build a house on, which has now been complicated by the Joshua tree protections imposed by the state.”
Redlands is a preferable place of residence for her in terms of her function as a member of the board of supervisors, she said.
“As Third District supervisor, my territory is nearly 10,000 square miles,” she said. “From where I live now it is 15 minutes into the office in San Bernardino, and I am able to reach all areas of my district in a more timely manner. By no means am I abandoning the Morongo Basin or my district at all.”
Insinuations that she has improperly enriched herself through abusing her position of trust as a supervisor to obtain the financial means to purchase her present home have no basis, she said.
“Regarding my ability to afford my home, my late husband was in the Marine Corps and we moved often,” she said. “We purchased homes wherever we were stationed, and we kept them knowing there was a likelihood that we would one day be stationed in those places again and would live in them upon our return. They were rental properties in the meantime, which supplemented our income. At the time my husband was killed in Iraq, I had three homes in areas like Fallbrook and just outside of Washington, D.C. that had appreciated quite a bit. The capital gains from those homes enabled me to have the financial means to purchase my current home.”
The Sentinel is honoring Rowe’s request that it not quote her statements with regard to other related issues surrounding the home purchase and the rumors and reports it spawned.
Rowe acknowledged attending a fundraiser Postmus hosted for her, Cook and Hagman held at the Tartan of Redlands last year and meeting him in passing at another fundraising event. She said she did not have a relationship with him otherwise, either politically or personally.
The Sentinel sought to suss out from Rowe how it was that through her votes on the board of supervisors she had entangled herself in a pattern of consistently supporting Postmus’s clients and others who have provided her with campaign funding. In specific regard to her vote to approve a project undertaken by one of Postmus’s clients, Eagle 55, a company in which Postmus is also a minority partner, she said she knew little of the project and that based on a county staff report she had voted to approve it, which entailed Eagle 55 being the recipient of a $5.5 million low-interest government loan.
She did not dispute voting right down the line in lockstep with Cook and Hagman in supporting development projects in general and in particular ones by proponents who had donated in common to the electioneering funds of all three of them, with some of those donors being Postmus’s clients. As an elected official who has won both of the elections she has competed in and successfully vied against 47 others to obtain the appointment in 2018 as Third District Supervisor, Rowe maintained that she is not a politician. She claimed she often did not know who many of those she is dealing with in the political realm are, including other elected officials and politicians, donors, business owners and operators, and movers and shakers in general. She claimed at least some of the entanglements she has fallen into were an outgrowth of her naivete. In explaining her nonchalance and ease in voting on matters impacting her donors and those who are investing in her political career, she maintained she did not make connections that others plainly see. She said she did not know how she was supposed to keep track of who her donors are, who her donors’ affiliates are, who their partners are or who their silent partners are.
Rowe tacitly acknowledged that in her fundraising efforts she had far outdistanced her opponents. She at least partially attributed that to her essentially pro-development philosophy, and she pointed out that she was a strong believer in private property rights and that she had one opponent who did not share that approach and believed that government has or should have the ability to control what landowners can do with their property. She was not able to cite a donor against whose interest she had voted, but she said there was no correlation between any of her campaign donors and any vote she had ever cast.  She said she evaluated all issues that come before her on a case by case basis. Money was not a motive in her public decisions, she said, and there was nothing she had done in office that she had horrible regrets about. She said she harbored no bad feeling or pangs of conscience about any vote she had made.

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