LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — An official from the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network confirmed Monday that donations from Arkansas Treasurer Dennis Milligan and his deputy chief of staff were being returned because of questions about whether it was appropriate to accept the contributions.
Ray Carson, the cancer group’s associate director of media advocacy for the South region, said the group — the advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society — had received the checks last week and notified both men that they would be refunded Friday.
Milligan and his Deputy Chief of Staff Jason Brady, a former American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network employee, sent the checks after an investigation into campaign-related emails sent by Brady from his Cancer Society address. Brady was volunteering as Milligan’s campaign manager during his bid for treasurer.
Brady was suspended with pay for three days during an internal investigation at the Treasurer’s office that found “no wrongdoing” by Brady as a state employee. Milligan said Brady admitted to sending at least one email from the incorrect email account, but he said the mistake did not rise to a violation of campaign or ethics law.
“With great disappointment, I explained to (Brady) that that was improper and wrong and he acknowledged that,” Milligan said last week.
Milligan declined to comment Monday on the group’s decision to return the donation. Brady was on vacation and couldn’t be reached.
While the treasurer’s office considers the issue closed, Carson said the Cancer Society is still looking into the email use.
“We’re conducting an ongoing internal investigation, and we did not feel right about accepting those donations,” Carson said Monday. “I don’t know what will happen when the investigation is finished. We’re just focusing on the investigation at this point.”
Carson said the group batches donation checks, which are deposited, then tracked in an electronic system. He said the Cancer Society would issue checks in the same amount to Milligan and Brady, but said the group has a policy against discussing the amounts of individual donations.
Milligan said in an interview last week that he would not discuss the amount he or Brady sent because it was “a personal matter.” He said he did not use campaign funding for the donation because the campaign was over, his campaign account still had debt and the mistake wasn’t a violation of campaign or ethics rules.
A call to the Arkansas Ethics Commission was not returned Monday afternoon.