John Lyon of the Arkansas News Bureau continues to press Treasurer Dennis Milligan with accumulating evidence of high aide Jason Brady’s campaign work for Milligan while he was employed by the nonprofit American Cancer Society, which discourages political activities by its employees.
Presented with both paper and electronic copies of Brady’s campaign communication on Cancer Society e-mail, the office is now saying it will have nothing to say on the matter. It has pronounced Brady cleared of any campaign impropriety, including an arrangement by which the Milligan campaign paid a third party to reimburse Brady for campaign work on social media.
A spokesman told Lyon the matter is closed.
Well, perhaps. KATV has reported, however, that Milligan is “in correspondence” with the state Ethics Commission about campaign matters. That might include the propriety of reporting as a payment to a third party money that was intended for Brady and paid in that manner to hide Brady’s involvement, as his e-mails indicated he desired.
Again I must note the potential irony in this issue.
Under an “ethics reform” law passed by the 2015 legislature, a political candidate may correct a campaign report within 30 days of learning of a question about its contents and face no investigation or finding of misconduct. Questions about the Brady payment? Milligan need only amend the report to “clarify” the expenditure. No foul.
And, if that happens, Milligan can thank Sen. Jon Woods, author of the “ethics reform” bill for the figurative get-out-of-jail-free card. Irony? Woods was among the group of Republicans who backed the highly qualified Duncan Baird for treasurer in the Republican primary. Milligan won, running largely on opposition to Obamacare. Baird voted for the private option. Milligan also tried to extort Baird out of the race by threatening him with release of information he believed damaging. This was the famous state Capitol security camera footage that showed — gasp — Baird and some political friends taking a walk around the state Capitol after hours.
More political entertainment seems likely in the Milligan era.