State Rep. Chuck Gray’s father is the sole funder of a secretive political action committee that is boosting Gray’s bid to oust U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney in next year’s Republican primary.

According to campaign finance disclosures filed with the Federal Elections Commission Saturday, Jan Charles Gray is the only contributor to Protect Wyoming Values PAC. The operation has orchestrated an extensive social media and phone text campaign promoting Gray as the best candidate to replace Cheney.

According to campaign finance reports, the elder Gray contributed $100,000 to the PAC on May 5. To date, the PAC has spent more than $80,000 of that boosting Gray ahead of next year’s primaries. As of June 30, the PAC had less than $20,000 in cash on hand, with no additional donors reported, according to campaign finance reports.

The PAC, which was registered anonymously with the Wyoming Secretary of State’s Office earlier this year, has served as a conduit between Gray’s father and Florida-based consultant Microtargeted Media, a one-stop shop for political campaigns managed by a Florida Republican Party official with close ties to former president Donald Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.

Gray in June declined to comment on any possible ties between the PAC’s spending and the Trump camp. Gray attended a series of meetings at Trump’s Bedminster Golf Club last week, according to news reports and the Gray campaign.

A Facebook post by the Protect Wyoming Values PAC criticizing a WyoFile story. (Screenshot/Facebook)

However, shortly after WyoFile reported on the PAC, it posted a rebuttal on Facebook.

“Looks like a reporter is trying to connect our organization to CHUCK GRAY,” the PAC wrote. “Let’s help him do his homework.””

Federal campaign finance laws that dictate how political action committees can coordinate with political candidates require organizations affiliated with a candidate to register their contributions as “in-kind” donations to the candidate’s campaign.

Coordinated expenditures are subject to different regulations, including contribution limits, than independent PAC activities without direct ties to a campaign.

Neither Gray’s campaign nor Jan Charles Gray immediately responded to repeated requests for comment.

Because Protect Wyoming Values PAC was established through a registered agent, it is impossible to prove whether the elder Gray founded the PAC, or if it was incorporated by another organization and financed by Gray. 

To prove a PAC was improperly  coordinated with a candidate, complaints must stand up to scrutiny under a three-pronged test, FEC spokesman Myles Martin said. The test components look at the source of the payment, the nature of the communications and the interaction between the person paying for the communication and the candidate or political party committee, he said. 

“This is a really unusual situation where you have a candidate’s family member directly and entirely funding the super PAC that is supporting the candidate,” Pete Quist, research director at the Montana-based National Institute on Money in Politics said. “But this doesn’t pass the smell test. Are people really not talking to one another here? This seems like a very close association.”

Support independent reporting — donate to WyoFile today

Gray’s campaign, which boasts the largest cash on-hand totals of any Cheney challenger as of July, has been largely self-funded, with relatively anemic donor support compared to candidates like Cheyenne attorney Darin Smith and Wyoming State Sen. Anthony Bouchard. 

According to Gray’s July FEC report, nearly $300,000 of the candidate’s $394,000 raised this election have come in the form of loans from the candidate himself, while an additional $5,600 in direct contributions have come from his father.

It is unclear whether the candidate has spent a significant amount of his own money. Of the $71,000 spent by the campaign so far, Gray as an individual has spent just over $1,400 for purchases including mailbox rental, airline tickets and campaign signs.

Join the Conversation

9 Comments

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Hmm, this article reads like a “daddy’s boy” at Sunday dinner, being coached to do his parents bidding.
    “Here son, I couldn’t win, so you run and I’ll direct you from the sidelines. ”
    “OK, pops.”
    I’m concerned about anyone running for office who has no friends willing to come forward and support them. It reflects a lack of interpersonal/social skills and predicts they won’t be receptive to anyone who doesn’t have their family name.
    There are enough entitled, weirdos in Congress right now. (An alleged child predator out of Florida who has come to our state spouting nonsense comes to mind…) Wyoming doesn’t need to send another one to Washington.

  2. We all owe Liz Cheney some thanks for standing up against Our ex-president, regardless of her motivation. When that Republican primary comes, I will vote for the least experienced, least intelligent, least ambitious candidate in the race. Liz Cheney is way too effective in promoting conservative politics. So right now it looks like Gray is the candidate for me.

  3. Having worked for Grays father many years ago, I know the apple didn’t fall too far from the tree. That said, it’s no wonder his “daddy” is his sole source of funding. I worked for Gray’s father when he “ran” for the office vacated by the late, great Craig Thomas. To me, that was indicative of the Gray’s lust for power, regardless of who they run over in their quest. I would no more cast my ballot for Gray, than I would for Cheney.

  4. I have watched Wyo State rep Chuck Gray and others perform their legislative duties and have monitored their voting records particularly those involving fiscal and social conservatism. I have found Rep. Gray to be among the most diligent and consistent conservative of our state representatives. I plan to support Representative Gray in his effort to unseat Ms. Cheney. In Wyo. I am hate to see political smear campaigns but would much prefer to see the candidates evaluated based on their policy positions and where applicable their legislative voting records.

    1. cheney is as conservative as they come.. but her telling the truth versus chrump’s big lie is an automatic disqualification?

      it’s amazing that the new age conservatives fear truth as much as they do.

      1. – if ultra-conservative Republican ideology was the golden path to political success and powermongering , Wyoming should rule the world as a virtual Vatican of sovereign orthodoxy.

        That is does not – and is in fact a severely struggling repressive regressive state – speaks volumes about political conservativism in this age.

    2. He’s consistent alright. Consistently trying to take our rights – for example: reproductive rights and voting rights. He belongs in Florida with the other rightwing kooks. Well, maybe he’s where he belongs.

  5. Laughing out loud. I thought this was the 20th Century, not the 19th…. Wyoming rethugs are good for a laugh a minute. Nevertheless, y’all keep on supporting them with your votes. Sometimes I wonder which is the cause and which the effect.