A state commission has dismissed an ethics complaint the Douglas County Republican Party filed against Omaha school board President Freddie Gray, a Democrat.
The Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission found “no probable cause to believe a violation had occurred,” according to a letter commission Executive Director Frank Daley mailed to Gray last week.
The complaint filed in August alleged that while on the school board, Gray voted to allocate more than $65,000 to nonprofit organizations, though her husband was serving at the time on the groups’ boards of directors.
Republicans said Gray should have announced her conflict and abstained from voting on those expenditures.
County Democrats said the complaint was a politically driven attempt to smear Freddie Gray and her husband, Ben Gray, who they said was an unpaid volunteer on those boards.
“We were proven exactly right,” Kris Pierce, Democratic Party chairman, said Wednesday.
Republicans filed the complaint three days before school board members were to vote on whether to retain Gray as their president over her handling of the Nancy Sebring hiring.
Pierce said Republicans believed Freddie Gray was vulnerable and tried to take advantage of it.
The Nebraska Political Accountability and Disclosure Act requires school board members to disclose potential conflicts that “may cause financial benefit or detriment to him or her, a member of his or her immediate family, or a business with which he or she is associated.” In those cases, officials are to remove themselves from the vote, the law says.
Pierce said the paperwork Republicans filed to support their complaint showed that their allegations were “absolutely false” and that Ben Gray had no financial interest in the organizations getting money. Freddie Gray could not be reached for comment Wednesday morning.
Republican Party spokesman Bruce Dickes said Wednesday his party wasn’t playing politics.
“Is it political? No, not really,” Dickes said. “It’s good government.”
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