A former Wyoming Secretary of State has filed a federal complaint against State Rep. Chuck Gray, R-Casper, accusing him of making fraudulent financial disclosures during his 2021 U.S. House campaign.
In a filing submitted Tuesday, Max Maxfield accused Gray of lying about the source of nearly $298,318 in loans he said were made by himself “from his personal accounts” to the campaign over the first half of 2021.
Maxfield was Secretary of State in Wyoming from 2007-2015 and state auditor from 1999-2007.
Gray is currently running for Secretary of State with the primary election exactly two weeks away. His leading competitor is State Sen. Tara Nethercott, R-Cheyenne, a legislator who has served the same amount of time as Gray.
“This frivolous, false filing, which was illegally leaked, is just liberal insiders who are trying to get Tara Nethercott elected working with the dishonest media to distract from Nethercott’s record,” Gray told Cowboy State Daily Tuesday night.
According to Maxfield’s complaint, Gray made less than $10,000 in income in 2021. If the allegations are true, it is a violation of federal campaign-finance law.
“It was all from me,” Gray said. “The claim is frivolous and defamatory.”
In his complaint, Maxfield requests the Federal Election Commission investigate Gray for illegally receiving donations from an individual and recording it as a personal loan he made to his campaign in violation of straw donor laws and the Federal Election Campaign Act.
“In my experience, the known facts do not add up,” Maxfield wrote in his cover letter to the complaint. “It is apparent to me that there are additional facts that must be discovered. I am asking the FEC to uncover those facts.”
Gray did report some additional earnings made off investments, but those only amounted to $5,000-$15,000 per year between 2021-2022.
“It is highly unlikely that an individual with no notable assets and income levels far below the poverty level could have the cash on hand to loan himself nearly $300,000,” the complaint said.
Gray had already reported receiving $100,000 from his father, Jan Charles Gray, through the Protect Wyoming Values super Political Action Committee, an organization set up on behalf of his Congressional campaign. Gray ceased his U.S. House campaign in September 2021 upon Harriet Hageman receiving former President Donald Trump’s endorsement.
Jan Gray was a partial source for his son’s income as owner of Mt. Rushmore Broadcasting, which owns 1230 AM KVOC, a radio station where the younger Gray hosts a show.
In his complaint, Maxfield speculates that it was Gray’s father that gave him the nearly $300,000 in funds.
“It is far more likely that, just like the Protect Wyoming Values PAC, the $300,000 allegedly loaned to the campaign by Mr. Charles Gray was actually a donation from his father,” the complaint said.
In addition to being a straw man donation, the allegations if true, also violate single donor federal campaign donation limits and requirements, which only allow a maximum contribution of $5,800 per year.
Gray has run a Secretary of State campaign based on a commitment to strengthening election security in Wyoming by banning ballot drop boxes and making ballot harvesting a felony crime.
Nethercott has expressed confidence in the current security of Wyoming’s elections and does not plan to make any changes. She is a member of the Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions committee.
Gray has expressed skepticism about the results of the 2020 presidential election throughout his campaign, hosting free showings of the “2000 Mules” movie throughout the state. This movie relies on questionable evidence and conclusions that through ballot harvesting, the 2020 election was rigged in certain states.
On Tuesday night, Gray accused Nethercott of failing to include the “paid for” line on her campaign signs. She did not immediately respond to a request to comment on the federal complaint or Gray’s accusation.
During the campaign, both candidates have also sparred over their voting records and powers given to the Secretary of State under Wyoming law.