Director of Democratic PAC aimed at millennials charged with theft, forgery

Grace Wise
Grace Wise

Grace Wise, the director of a political action committee geared toward recruiting millennial Democrats to run for office, has been charged with theft by deception and forgery.

Wise, 25, was arrested in Lexington on Monday and charged with four counts of theft by deception, to include cold checks, under $10,000, and one count of theft by deception, to include cold checks, $10,000 or more. She also was charged with one count of second-degree forgery.

Abigail Hilliard, the former spokeswoman of the Back the Bluegrass PAC, said Tuesday that she is a victim in the case and had resigned from her position as of Tuesday.

“As a victim in the case I resigned from the PAC earlier today and therefore can not offer you an official statement,” Hilliard said in an emailed statement. “Being that I am a victim in the case, I would ask that you respect my wishes not to discuss the case further. “

According to a police citation filed in Fayette District Court, Wise tried to pass a forged check in the amount of $15,000 and “created a false impression as to the validity of funds in various checking accounts in order to deprive and deceive.”

She also is accused of using “funds from an account for her personal benefit, resulting in a loss of $6,000 to the financial institution” the account was drawn on. And she “unlawfully completed a commercial instrument without the owners (sic) consent, intending to deprive,” the citation states.

Police said that on July 25 a search warrant was executed at her home, and investigators discovered another person’s birth certificate and Social Security card, along with some marijuana. Those findings resulted in the charges of Possession of Stolen Vital Statistics Certificate/Records, Possession of Marijuana, and Receiving Stolen Property.

The Back the Bluegrass PAC, an organization designed to launch millennial Democrats to office in Kentucky, was formed in May.

The PAC announced a 12-member board in early July, consisting of several prominent young Democratic politicians, including Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, former state Auditor Adam Edelen, Colmon Eldridge, a former staffer for former Gov. Steve Beshear, and state Rep. McKenzie Cantrell, D-Louisville.

However, Grimes denied ever being associated with the PAC.

“Sec. Grimes did not agree or acquiesce to serve on the board of Back the Bluegrass,” said Grimes spokesman Bradford Queen. “Secretary Grimes and her office have no affiliation with the organization or with Ms. Wise. The use of Sec. Grimes’ name and elected position was unauthorized and without the knowledge or permission of Sec. Grimes or her office.”

Edelen, however, did agree to have his name associated with the PAC.

“I lent my name to the organization because it has the same mission I believe in of promoting new ideas and new leaders in Kentucky,” Edelen said. “And I regret Grace’s personal situation.”

Before founding the PAC, Wise was a paid staffer on Lexington Mayor Jim Gray’s 2016 senatorial bid.

Wise was also charged in December with theft by deception after she wrote a cold check for $6,654 to Alex Auto Sales, according to Fayette District Court records. She pleaded guilty to an amended charge of misdemeanor theft by deception in March.

Wise pleaded not guilty at her arraignment Tuesday. She was being held in the Fayette County Detention Center on Tuesday night and is scheduled to appear in court again at 8:30 a.m. Aug. 4.