Tom Lubnau: Analyzing The Anonymous Mailers Attacking Chuck Gray

Columnist Tom Lubnau writes, "According to the Wyoming Campaign Finance Information website, Jan Charles Gray donated a total of $700,000 to Chuck Gray’s campaign. It is fair to say that Chuck Gray’s dad financed 96% of Gray’s campaign."

Tom Lubnau

March 13, 20247 min read

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Recently, Secretary of State Chuck Gray unilaterally determined that anonymous mailers sent out more than 30 days ahead of a primary and 60 days ahead of a general election are legal.

As a result, we can all expect a spring full of anonymous mailers from anonymous mailboxes from all over the country spouting all kinds of horrible nonsense about potential candidates and political officeholders.

In a touch of irony, Gray was targeted by one of those mailers shortly after his decision the mailers were legal.

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Given the content of the mailers, and Secretary Gray’s responses, it is worth examining the mailer and his responses.

First, the mailer says that “Millionaire Daddy spent $500,000 to buy the election.”

The part about Jan Charles Gray being a millionaire is true. The part about spending $500,000 on his son’s campaign is not true — his father spent $700,000.

According to the Wyoming Campaign Finance Information website, Jan Charles Gray donated a total of $700,000 to Chuck Gray’s campaign.

Of the remaining total contributions that bring it to $735,994, Chuck Gray donated $10,000 to his own campaign. Others donated $25,994.

The graph, generated by the Wyoming Campaign Finance Website, maintained by Secretary of State Gray’s office, tells the story.

It is fair to say that Chuck Gray’s dad financed 96% of Gray’s campaign.

Comparing Chuck Gray’s finances to his opponent, Tara Nethercott, one sees that Ms. Nethercott raised a total of $369,933, of which $304,503 were from individual donations.

Chuck’s dad donated almost more than twice the amount of money than Nethercott raised and used in her entire campaign.

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One can’t conclude, positively, that Jan Charle Gray bought the election, but based on these numbers, it is a fair inference.

The next statement in the mailer is that Chuck Gray wants to increase the Secretary of State’s budget by 30%. Secretary Gray’s office budget last biennium was $9.3 million. He asked for a budget of $12.6 million this next biennium, so he did ask for a $3.3 million budget increase (approximately 30%).

In his budget request, Secretary Gray asked for a $3.1 appropriation to buy a new computer program on a sole-source contract to upgrade his business enterprise system. Secretary Gray initially asserted that he had let the project out for bid.

Later, Secretary Gray explained he had already negotiated the purchase without any bids. Because of inconsistent answers, the Joint Appropriations Committee denied his request to increase his budget. Secretary Gray then broadcast that his budget was denied because the JAC was “playing politics."

Secretary Gray was asked to clarify his testimony, but he refused. Instead, he demanded two new employees. That request was also denied because Secretary Gray refused to provide information to justify the need for more employees.

Secretary Gray, when he was in the Legislature, was a known budget-hawk. He argued against many budget increases, filed amendments to decrease appropriations, eliminate positions and voted against the budget a few times.

Secretary Gray even claims he showed fiscal responsibility because he "resisted millions of dollars in corporate welfare projects” on his 2023 Year in Review press release on his website.

There should be a term for someone who talks one way, and does something completely different.

The mailer then accuses Secretary Gray of being a RINO. On one side, the mailer says, “We’ve been duped by RINO Chuck Gray.” On the other side of the mailer, Gray’s photo is emblazoned with the word "RINO" over his photo, and the mailer says, “Chuck Gray has abandoned his Republican values.”

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To determine whether these statements are true, one must look at both Secretary Gray’s actions and his responses to the claims.

Gray told Cowboy State Daily the mailer contains “a bunch of lies” concocted by donors affiliated with Hillary Clinton and George Soros. “The insiders and their friends in the media can’t win on the facts so they just make it all up, recycling their lying tactics.”

He went on to say, “The inability of the Clinton/Soros donors funding this mailer to understand how our agency is one of the few in government that actually brings in money, and that has grown 300% in volume in six years, shows just how much they do not understand how to run a business.”

He also said, “The Clinton/Soros donors funding this are clearly upset about my work to make sure [Donald] Trump will be on the ballot.”

There is a possibility that George Soros and Hillary Clinton, and their donors, are worried about the machinations of Secretary Gray enough to fund this mailer.

On the other hand, there is a possibility these statements are a vainglorious political word salad used to make Secretary Gray appear relevant in the face of fair criticism.

Only real evidence will bear out whether Soros/Clinton donors are so scared of the secretary of state from the least-populated state in the union that they would spend precious dollars to besmirch Chuck Gray’s reputation. At this point, all we have is Secretary Gray’s accusations of a Clinton/Soros connection and the claims of an anonymous mailer.

As to whether or not Secretary Gray is a RINO, we’ll all have to judge him by his actions.

He proposed a big-government solution by trying to impose regulations from his office instead of convincing the Legislature to pass a law imposing residency regulations for voters. Passing regulations without legislative approval is a hallmark of federal big-government agencies.

Secretary Gray jetted to Washington, D.C., for a meeting and a photo-op in front of the Supreme Court protesting the Colorado action to keep Trump on the ballot (The nine justices of the U.S. Supreme Court must have been quaking in their boots).

He filed a brief in the U.S. Supreme Court arguing to reverse a decision in the state of Colorado to keep Donald Trump off the Colorado ballot. Then, he issued a press release from the Secretary of State’s office touting his achievement. One can argue whether filing briefs from lawsuits that happen in other states is a valid duty of Wyoming Secretary of State Gray’s office, or whether he is just being a grandstanding busybody.

Secretary Gray proposed another set of expensive regulations requiring the disclosure of ESG policies for any company in which we invest our savings account dollars. These regulations would significantly reduce the number of companies in which Wyoming folks would be able to invest. This virtue signaling would have cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars in investment returns. Fortunately, Gov. Gordon vetoed the regulations.

He bragged, in his response to the denial of his new computer system, that his agency actually “brings in money.” It might be argued that Secretary Gray is charging too much for his services if his office “brings in money” to the state of Wyoming.

He then goes on to say the appropriations committee “do not understand how to run a business.” The Secretary of State’s office should not operate as a for-profit business. It should operate to serve the people of Wyoming in the most efficient manner possible.

In summary, he has proposed big-government regulations, tried to expand his budget and he brags about his department collecting extra money from the public. What part of those actions fall within the conservative agenda?

While Secretary Gray’s actions all work to advance the Trump agenda, we elected him to be the secretary of state, not the Chief Trump Propaganda Officer.

So, arguably, Chuck Gray is a big government RINO.

Anonymous mailers are going to be a pain in the neck this election year for anyone with a mailbox. Perhaps Secretary Gray should not have approved the use of anonymous mailers as a political tool.

Tom Lubnau served in the Wyoming Legislature from 2005 - 2015 and is a former Speaker of the House.

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