The Buzz

December 10, 2013

Longtime strategist Pat Gray left out of medical levy campaign in its final days, email shows

Political consultant Pat Gray’s company was paid almost $21,000 for services related to the pro-medical-research-tax effort, but left the campaign 10 days before the election.

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Ten days before Kansas City voters went to the polls to decide the fate of a medical research tax, the lead pro-tax campaign consultant Jeff Roe instructed other campaign officials to stop sharing political information with longtime Kansas City political strategist and team member Pat Gray.

The instruction came in an Oct. 26 email from Roe to other campaign officials that was provided to The Star. On Tuesday Roe confirmed its authenticity.

“Pat Gray has decided to step back from the campaign from this point forward,” Roe’s Oct. 26 email said. “Please leave him off any and all campaign communications from here out.”

The request was part of a larger message inviting other campaign officials to a dinner Oct. 29. “Thanks everyone for all of your hard work and professionalism during this campaign,” Roe’s message said. “I couldn’t imagine a better group of people to go to battle with for the last 10 days of an election.”

The medical research sales tax election was Nov. 5.

On Nov. 7, two days after voters soundly rejected the tax hike, The Star asked Gray to comment on his role in the medical research levy election as part of a story on the political consulting industry.

In a brief emailed response to the questions, Gray said he was not asked to leave the pro-tax levy campaign.

Missouri Ethics Commission records show Gray’s company, Cambridge Consultants LLC, was paid $20,718 by the Committee for Research Treatments and Cures, the primary committee supporting the half-cent Jackson County sales tax for medical research. The last payment to Cambridge — $10,000, for “advisory services” — was made Oct. 21, just five days before Roe’s memo that excluded Gray from any future campaign communications.

Roe’s Oct. 26 email was not sent to Gray, and Gray was not invited to the campaign dinner on Oct. 29.

It isn’t clear why Gray decided to “step back” from the medical research levy campaign ten days before the election, or why Roe thought it important to leave him out of the campaign communication loop. Roe declined to comment on the record, and Gray did not respond to several emails requesting comment.

Gray has been considered one of the primary local election consultants in Kansas City for decades, and has worked on several local issue campaigns in the past 20 years.

He has also been involved in local candidate elections. He worked for 1991 mayoral candidate Dick King, but was asked to leave that campaign and “showed up” in the camp of another candidate, Brice Harris, according to reporting in The Star at the time.

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