Treasurer Dennis Milligan holds the public that he ostensibly serves in utter contempt. That’s really the only explanation for his dismissive and evasive responses to questions about ethics and transparency in his campaign and office.
KATV interviewed him last night, finally getting Milligan to talk on camera after he dodged repeated requests. Milligan essentially refused to answer any questions about deputy chief of staff Jason Brady‘s improper use of his nonprofit email and telephone for campaign work when Brady was working at the Cancer Society and Milligan was running for treasurer. Brady also asked to be reimbursed for $308.96 during the campaign, and stated, in an email acquired by reporter John Lyon of Arkansas News: “Sorry to ask for this, but as you know, for my job security,I can NOT be listed anywhere on a campaign contribution report.” Questions remain about whether Brady was paid, what he was paid for, and whether it was ever properly reported (Milligan claims Brady’s payment was proper and made by a vendor paid by the campaign). Milligan suspended Brady for three days and then declared, without evidence, that he was “fully cleared.”
“We’re very pleased with everything that we’ve done with respect to our investments [and] our transparency,” Milligan said, in an irrelevant non-response to KATV’s reporter Marine Glisovic’s simple factual question verifying which office staffers were part of the internal “investigation” into Brady. He repeated versions of that answer continually to all followup questions (along with some nonsensical and bogus claims that he wouldn’t discuss politics “on the Capitol grounds”).
Glisovic also asked about the fact that staffer Grant Wallace, part of the team which investigated Brady, lives with him. Milligan refused to answer questions about this conflict of interest. Instead, smirking, he continually repeated how pleased he was with himself that he had fulfilled his promise to restore transparency to the treasurer’s office. The only way that a politician can dodge a reporter’s questions by telling her that he’s super-transparent? That would be if someone, like Milligan, thinks that the voters are stupid.
As far as restoring transparency to the Treasurer’s office, here’s a quick run-through of his brief record that Max wrote up recently:
Milligan fired an office staffer this week for unexplained reasons. He’d been a campaign worker. He’s been dogged by controversy. He had to get a law change to qualify Jim Harris to be hired as his chief deputy. He illegally hired a cousin. He hired a legislator’s wife. He ousted vendors with months to run on contracts to replace them with vendors of his choosing. He handed one office contract to the son of one of his top aides, Gary Underwood. He’s been unavailable for interview or direct comment. He won a hotly contested primary after trying to force Duncan Baird out of the race with threat of spreading political dirt about him. He’s instituted a policy of destroying e-mail every 30 days. He’s still battling legal action from his days as Saline circult clerk, where a depleted budget and unhappy employees are part of his record.
After getting away with attempting extortion on a political opponent in a Krispy Kreme donut shop, Milligan now thinks he’s above the law, and public scrutiny is beneath him. It’s hard to be worse than Martha Shoffner, but it’s early yet!
Worth reading KATV’s report, which gets into more details about Milligan’s lies, evasions, conflicts, and hypocrisies. Also, you can see the full, ten-minute raw footage of Milligan refusing to answer basic questions here.