Treasurer Dennis Milligan yesterday suspended his deputy chief of staff, Jason Brady, to further investigate reporting by John Lyon of Stephens Media on Brady’s use of his phone at the nonprofit American Cancer Society to work on Milligan’s campaign last year.
Lyon reports on a statement from Milligan, who has not been available for interviews. I received the full text:
“Jason Brady is an experienced and trusted advisor in my administration thanks to his previous service in state government; however, after learning of this situation, I have asked him to take personal leave time away from the office until we learn more about this situation. We have conducted a quick but thorough review of Brady’s state government emails, internet access and activities on the state’s time and are satisfied he has not conducted any political activity while employed in my office.
The questions about Brady’s activities are not tied to state government but rather his role as an unpaid volunteer to my campaign. Once again, Brady was a trusted volunteer advisor during the campaign due to his past experience in managing state-wide political campaigns or organizations. I found his council extremely wise and helpful in my successful bid for this office. Brady was also a private citizen employed in the private sector. Like lots of Arkansans last year, Brady decided to exercise his First Amendment rights of free speech and association.
I provided Brady with a campaign email address and expected him to use it to communicate with me and others tied to my campaign. If he used resources he should not have at his former employer, it was against my design and wishes, and I will discuss with Brady ways he can make amends to the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACSCAN) which is a 501 (c ) (4) organization. I want to be assured that none of this information hurt the goals and missions of ACSCAN and its stated goal to ‘advocate for public policies that are helping to defeat cancer.’ “
Brady has said he had multiple phones and inadvertently used a Cancer Society phone for campaign work, something that’s prohibited on the non-profit’s time and equipment by tax law.
The e-mails Lyon quoted also indicated Brady had asked that campaign reimbursements to him be made in a way that did not reveal his involvement in the campaign. That leaves a larger question on the matter of how the campaign reported money paid to Brady. If it was paid through an intermediary, was it an honest accounting, or simply a ruse to get money to Brady in a way that could not be detected? I’ve put questions on this matter to Milligan’s spokesman Grant Wallace. Wallace, like Brady, is another former Mike Huckabee hand. He, too, worked for the Cancer Society during his campaigning for Milligan, but says all his campaign work for Milligan was done on his own time.
Other Huckabee people on Milligan’s staff include Huckabee’s brother-in-law, Jim Harris, and his long-time communications man, Gary Underwood. Leslie Peacock reported for us Sunday how Underwood had passed a video business of his to his son, who now has a contract to do work for the treasurer’s office. A former computer server provider to the office has described how Underwood was out prospecting among office suppliers before Milligan took office. She was so offended by his tone that she reported it to the office. She said Milligan gave up paid months of server use to change the business to someone else.
Brady’s previous public service included controversy over his handling of a Republican Party campaign account .