UPDATE: ‘Unfounded’ ethics complaint dismissed against Bray

UPDATE: POSTED 6:15 P.M. JAN. 13, 2020

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – A complaint filed against first term Representative Josh Bray of Mount Vernon was dismissed for not having “facts sufficient to constitute a violation,” according to the Order of Dismissal from the Legislative Ethics Commission.

The Commission found insufficient evidence for the complaint’s claim that Bray’s service as Mount Vernon’s City administrator as a conflict with his role as a state legislator. Bray publicly shared that he would resign before taking office as a Representative multiples times throughout the campaign and submitted a letter of resignation citing December 31 as his last day in that position.

“These claims are unfounded and politically motivated and I appreciate that the Ethics Commission took the matter seriously and reviewed the evidence thoroughly. It was an honor to serve the people of Mount Vernon as City Administrator, but now that chapter in my life is closed and I am looking forward to working for our entire district,” Bray added. “I hope we can move forward and put this matter behind us. The election is over and the campaign is behind us, it is time to get to work and lead this state in the right direction.”

The Commission dismissed the complaint at its January 6 meeting. While he is focused entirely on the 2021 Regular Session now, Bray plans to launch a consulting company specializing in municipal financial services.

“I am 100 percent focused on my district and this session right now. When the time is right, I plan to pursue a path that allows me to put my experience as a city administrator to work but will continue to take the appropriate steps to make sure that I continue to act in an open and honest manner.”

ORIGINAL STORY POSTED DEC. 18, 2020

MT. VERNON, Ky. (WTVQ) – The nonprofit PAC Kentucky for Strong Families has filed an ethics complaint against newly elected representative Josh Bray, claiming Bray’s job as city administrator in Mount Vernon opens the door to conflicts of interest that could raise questions about Bray’s motives.

But the issue may be moot since Bray said during the campaign earlier this year he intends to resign his job before taking office in January.

Bray will represent the 71st district, which covers Rockcastle and Garrard counties and part of Madison, in the Kentucky House.

An Eastern Kentucky University graduate, he is has been Mount Vernon’s city administrator since 2008.

In a statement, Rebecca Blankenship, the executive director of Kentucky for Strong Families, said as city administrator, Bray will have the influence to steer taxpayer dollars to potential donors to his re-election campaigns.

“Having loaned his campaign $10,000 to buy his seat, he may have reason to. Bray took thousands from big business. It might as well have been a personal check,” said
Blankenship, KSF’s executive director. “Anything he raised could go right to paying
himself.”

When reached Friday afternoon, Bray said he’d not be contacted about the matter.

“I have not been notified of any complaint filed against me and will reserve comment until I have been notified and have had an opportunity to review it. As a candidate and Representative Elect, I have acted in an open, honest, and transparent manner and will continue to do so,” Bray said.

In her statement, Blankenship said the money Bray raised came partly from a PAC chaired by the president of Kentucky American Water. The city of Mount Vernon sells water to Kentucky American in a deal Bray, as city administrator, supervises.

“It looks like bribery to us,” said Blankenship. “Maybe Josh Bray thinks you go to Frankfort to get rich. But he needs to resign as Mount Vernon City Administrator while the legislative ethics commission investigates.”

Bray narrowly defeated incumbent Travis Brenda in the June Republican primary and ran unopposed in the November general election. During that campaign, the conflict issue came up.

At the time, Bray said he intended to step down if elected. While he did not address the issue Friday, others in House leadership suggested he intended to keep that promise before he takes office in January.

Kentucky for Strong Families is a nonprofit that advocates for policies that protect residents
from domestic violence, eviction, and poverty.

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