State Treasurer Dennis Milligan and his office continue to be tarred by ethical questions, hardly the sort of early record that lives up to Milligan’s promise to clean up the office after Martha Shoffner’s tenure, which ended prematurely with her conviction on a bribery charge.
The latest is a report from John Lyon
at Stephens Media at Arkansas News (now owned by GateHouse Media) on the campaigning done for Milligan by two current employees while they were employed by the American Cancer Society and theoretically prohibited from doing partisan campaign work while working for a tax-exempt nonprofit.
* Lyon obtained e-mails that showed Jason Brady, now Milligan’s chief of staff, used the Cancer Society email and telephone number for campaign work. Brady now says he had multiple phone accounts and inadvertently used the wrong account.
* Grant Wallace, now assistant deputy director for Milligan, also worked for the Cancer Society and also campaigned for Milligan, e-mails show, but he used a private e-mail account and contends in a statement that his campaign work was outside cancer society hours.
Smelly yes. But not nearly so smelly as a specific matter Lyon uncovered.
There was e-mail indicating that Brady’s name should be kept off campaign finance records.
In a Tuesday, March 11, 2014, email sent at 2:28 p.m., Brady wrote, “Facebook is an extremely important part of our air game plan in this campaign. We can’t afford TV nor radio … so I will reduce the number of households we hit in our direct mail pieces to fund this aspect of the campaign.”
In that email, Brady also asked to be reimbursed for $308.96.
“Sorry to ask for this, but as you know, for my job security, I can NOT be listed anywhere on a campaign contribution report,” he added.
In October, Wallace sent an e-mail to Brady with an attachment saying a campaign payment had been made. It’s unclear if that’s related to Brady or another expenditure.
Milligan wouldn’t talk to Lyon about the matters he dug up.
The lingering questions: Did the campaign pay Brady? How did it pay him? How was it reported? What was he paid for?
Actually, these questions raise another sort of ironic question. If there was an “inadvertent mistake” in how Milligan reported a payment to reimburse Brady, does it matter? And if it doesn’t, Brady and Milligan can thank an ally of the man Milligan tried to extort out of the primary, Duncan Baird. A new “ethics reform” law pushed by Sen. Jon Woods, a supporter of Baird, now allows politicians to avoid discipline for inaccurate campaign reports and illegal gifts. They merely need to report these “oversights’ in 30 days and correct the report or pay the illegal gift back. No foul.
However, Woods’ “ethics reform” legislation DID include a limitation on the size of campaign decals that politicians can put on cars parked at the state Capitol. This was, you might not know, a gig of Milligan for his gaudily festooned truck. Probably unconstitutional too, I”d think.
More on Milligan is in progress. A lawsuit continues over his actions as circuit clerk in Saline County. It reportedly includes a deposition that delves into Milligan’s pressure on Baird to drop out of the race based on Capitol security camera footage that showed Baird and friends exploring the Capitol late at night (and not doing anything untoward). It certainly includes his hiring of Sen. Alan Clark’s wife to his paid staff. It certainly includes his illegal hiring of a cousin to his staff. It certainly includes some other expenditures of office money on related parties.
And by the way, this isn’t Jason Brady’s first dance with financial questions. He was a right-hand money man when Mike Huckabee was governor (Mike Huckabee’s brother-in-law Jim Harris, also a Milligan staffer, has a cameo in Lyon’s article today.) His linkages included a tie to a $10,000 campaign contribution from the wife of a man Huckabee commuted on a DWI sentence. He also ran the Victory 2000 GOP fund-raising campaign, which became embroiled in accounting questions. Brady and Grant Wallace both went from there to staff a Huckabee office in Washington that produced little of obvious value for the state, but likely was more about a beachhead for Huckabee himself.
Milligan hasn’t exactly cleaned the Martha Shoffner stable just yet.