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Campaign Watchdog: Jim Newberry’s ad attacking Jim Gray ‘mostly false’

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By Andy Mead – amead@herald-leader.com

The statement: “(Jim) Gray’s attacking to hide the millions he made on government no-bid contracts and shady insider stock deals. Gray’s company even got caught employing illegal immigrants.”

— Mayor Jim Newberry, in a television ad criticizing Vice Mayor Jim Gray, his opponent in the Nov. 2 election

The ruling: Mostly false

The facts: This ad begins by talking about Gray’s negative ads. It shows people saying negative ads don’t work, then turns negative itself. But the charges don’t add up.

When Newberry’s campaign was asked to back up its claim that Gray made millions on “no-bid contracts,” it produced a 1998 Urban County Council resolution accepting the proposal of the James N. Gray Co. to oversee construction of a new Fayette County Detention Center for $1.25 million. There were no other bidders because the city was under pressure to quickly replace the overcrowded former jail.

The Newberry campaign also pointed to Fedspending.org, a Web site that tracks government contracts. That site showed only one “not competed” Gray contract, for $3,348.

Newberry’s campaign also claimed that Gray’s company had another $14 million in what it called “a hybrid bid/no bid situation.” But almost all of those had competition from companies considered qualified to do the work, or were follow-up contracts related to the same projects.

In all, the claim of “millions” wasn’t substantiated.

The “insider stock deals” claim is a reference to Gray’s dealings, through his company, with stock in PurchasePro.com, a company founded by Lexington native Charles “Junior” Johnson. Records show that Gray was selling stock in the company around the time he touted PurchasePro in one of the company’s press releases, but those transactions were reported to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Gray was one of a number of early investors who made money from PurchasePro. Many later lost money, and Johnson went to prison for defrauding investors, but that was years after Gray’s involvement.

The “illegal immigrants” mentioned in the ad were seven people working for a subcontractor Gray had hired on a large CVS distribution center being built last year in Chemung, N.Y. The illegal immigrants did not work directly for Gray’s company.

When local officials found the workers on the site, Gray immediately fired the subcontractor and hired local workers for the job.

Filed Under: Campaign WatchdogElectionsJim GrayLexington GovernmentMayor's race

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Comments

  1. Reality Check says:

    How unfortunate and distasteful that Newberry has chosen to run such a negative and misleading campaign for re-election. It reeks of desperation and it’s despicable. I voted for him once but will not again. He is not the kind of man I want as my mayor.

  2. lewis says:

    Smoke and mirrors, doublespeak, and oblivious to life on “main street.” Typical attorney though, bully others when things get tough. No wonder McChord, Stinnett, and Lane are cohorts, the only thing missing is Scanlon live and in person and not behind the scenes.

  3. commytaudill says:

    who really cares? we have two people spending gobs of money to be mayor of Lex. neither is much of a visionary. neither inspires a large swath of our town. okay, pick one. manage what you can…. whatever.

  4. GinaL says:

    Most of what all politicians say is “mostly false” if not an outright lie. A truthful candidate would be such a welcome change.