- Associated Press - Thursday, September 3, 2015

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - The Arkansas Ethics Commission will investigate portions of a complaint filed against state Treasurer Dennis Milligan last month alleging rule violations in campaign expenditure reporting, use of government resources, hiring and other areas.

The commission sent a letter dated Wednesday to Little Rock attorney and blogger Matt Campbell confirming that it would look into most of the 14 allegations he filed against Milligan last month. Under state law, the commission can confirm an investigation only to those involved, not to the public.

“The biggest part of what they’ll look into and the most serious is the campaign finance stuff,” Campbell said. “It appears they were being vague and misleading. And that’s including the amended reports they filed.”

Byron Freeland, an attorney representing Milligan in the ethics complaint, said he received a letter Thursday from the Ethics Commission confirming the investigation. He said after reviewing the allegations in the complaint, he was “surprised by the number of factual errors it contained.”

“People need to wait until the facts come out to make a judgment on these things. It also smacks of partisan politics,” said Freeland, who is also representing Milligan in his official capacity as treasurer in a defamation lawsuit filed by a former employee.

Campbell said he submitted more than 100 pages of supporting documents including emails and campaign finance reports.

“The campaign finance reports speak for themselves, and they’re nothing but a shell game and an attempt to hide money,” Campbell said.

According to the letter signed by Ethics Commission Executive Director Graham Sloan, the commission plans to investigate portions of 13 of the allegations.

In the letter, the commission said it would investigate more than a dozen instances of allegations that Milligan either misreported or improperly reported campaign expenditures and donations. The commission also agreed to investigate allegations that Milligan misused government resources by allegedly increasing pay rates for his employees when he was Saline County Circuit Clerk so they could work part-time and give more time to his campaign for treasurer, as well as other allegations.

The commission also will look into whether Milligan illegally hired the spouses of two legislators without receiving proper approval and whether he promised state jobs to campaign volunteers in lieu of payment for their campaign duties.

It will not, however, investigate allegations that campaign staff set up a private email to receive job applications for the treasurer’s office to avoid having to release them to reporters. The commission also declined to investigate previously reported concerns that Deputy Chief of Staff Jason Brady sent campaign emails from his American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network account.

“The enforcement jurisdiction of the Ethics Commission’s does not include the (Freedom of Information Act) and/or the aforementioned corporate policy. Accordingly, such allegations will not be made a part of the Ethics Commission’s investigation,” Sloan wrote.

Campbell previously filed an ethics complaint about campaign finance issues that eventually resulted in Lt. Gov. Mark Darr resigning in February 2014.

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