Michael John Gray Continues to Mislead in Response to Allegations

Why, it's almost like he's trying to cover something up.

Yesterday, local media started to pick up the allegations about Michael John Gray, the Democratic Party of Arkansas, and Karyn Bradford-Coleman that were laid out in this post and this post. The Arkansas Times was the first to publish something about the whole issue, and they got some quotes from Gray as part of that post. (I was not asked me for a quote or a response, but whatever).

ANYWAY, as is relevant here, this is what the Times’ post quoted Gray as saying:

Responding to the Blue Hog Report, Gray also said that he believes Campbell is incorrect in his reading of the reports of his unsuccessful bid for re-election in 2018, but that if he made errors he would fix them.
Gray also said most of the issues raised on Blue Hog about problems with party finance reports “have been addressed in previous state committee meetings,” and that the stem from his predecessor’s time in office.
He said there were “a few I’m looking deeper into that I don’t think rise to any level of concern,” but that he had asked the party’s local and federal counsel to review the allegations. He’s called a special meeting of the state committee on Aug. 17 “to address all questions and claims about the financial integrity of our State Party.”

Hmm. Interesting. Well, allow me to retort.

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He’s been begging for it, so let’s go ahead and take this one apart one piece at a time.

Responding to the Blue Hog Report, Gray also said that he believes Campbell is incorrect in his reading of the reports of his unsuccessful bid for re-election in 2018, but that if he made errors he would fix them.

Well, I wasn’t incorrect in stating that he had not filed his 10-day pre-election or final Campaign Contribution & Expenditure reports for 2018. That part is inarguable. (He glossed over that, I guess.) But as to the allegation about improper use of campaign funds, let’s walk through that again.

The campaign made three $5,000 payments on the same day to Jason Willett’s consulting firm.1 A few days later, Willett’s firm returned $5,000 to the campaign. A few weeks after that, Gray paid himself $5,000 that he specifically referred to as the refund from Willett. Yet, that money was from the campaign. It was never Gray’s to refund to himself. Getting it back from Willett did not suddenly turn it into free money for Gray.

So…I fail to see where I was incorrect. That’s why I filed an ethics complaint against Gray yesterday based on the failure to file reports and the payment of $5,000 to himself. Moving on…

Gray also said most of the issues raised on Blue Hog about problems with party finance reports “have been addressed in previous state committee meetings,” and that the stem from his predecessor’s time in office.

According to multiple state-committee members, this is false. What has been discussed is older issues with reporting for which the DPA has paid over $17,000 in FEC fines. Those did stem from Gray’s predecessor’s time as chair. However, those were demonstrably NOT the issues that I raised in the first post. Which should be obvious since he is referring to issues from the prior administration, while the reports that I looked at specifically were only from Gray’s time as chairman. Time may be a flat circle, but there’s no timeline where reports from Gray’s time as chair would create issues that stem from a prior chairman’s tenure. And the issues from the newer reports have simply not been discussed at prior committee meetings, and any suggestion to the contrary is a lie.

He said there were “a few I’m looking deeper into that I don’t think rise to any level of concern,” but that he had asked the party’s local and federal counsel to review the allegations.

We pointed out that Chief of Staff Karyn Bradford-Coleman had received multiple raises that were never approved by the Executive Committee. We pointed out that Bradford-Coleman’s notarizing of Gray’s stamped signature was improper under state law. We pointed out that several of the quarterly reports did not have the correct amounts listed or otherwise had problems with their accounting and reporting. We even pointed out that the party, under Gray’s watch, was over a month late paying an FEC fine. Yet…he’s not concerned about any of that?

Hmm…I wonder if he’s not concerned because Annie Depper, the attorney for the DPA who is doing some of the “investigating” is also the one of the attorneys for Delta Medical Cannabis, which is the medical marijuana facility in which Gray (through his mother) has an interest. (Gray’s mom, Penny Stanley, is a 7.4% owner.)

Gray repeated many of these same lies in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette story that came out this morning. He added one new one, however, claiming that Chris Burks was DPA attorney under the prior chairman and had been replaced by Gray when Gray took over. In fact, Burks was party attorney for well over a year under Gray as well. What kind of person needlessly lies about things that are obviously disprovable?

It is pretty clear at this point that Michael John Gray and those around him are going to continue to lie, obfuscate, and distract in an effort to make this go away and allow him to keep his position as chair. The party, through the state committee, can either accept this deceit and turn a blind eye to it, or they can remove Gray as chairman and begin rebuilding trust in the party. If they choose the former, a whole bunch of people are likely to bail on the party, both financially and in terms of voter support; if they choose the latter, the party can begin rebuilding itself in a manner that is both transparent and effective. Come August 17, we’ll see which path they pick.


  1. Remember that name as it relates to Michael John Gray. We’ll be coming back to that in a future post.

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