Sep 12, 2022 - Politics

Julie Gunnigle's campaign manager attacked for controversial tweets

A man posing for a photo at a movie premiere.

Bruce Franks Jr., campaign manager for Julie Gunnigle, in 2019. Photo: Amy Sussman/Getty Images

Republicans are using old tweets from a Democratic campaign manager to attack Maricopa County attorney candidate Julie Gunnigle.

The latest: Last week, a Republican running for Congress in Maryland posted a screenshot of several of Bruce Franks Jr.'s tweets — many of them dating back to 2009 — that included LGBTQ slurs and disparaging comments about women and people with disabilities.

What they're saying: Nothing to us. Franks and Gunnigle's campaign spokesperson did not respond to our requests for comments.

Yes, but: Franks tweeted an apology video late Friday saying, "I've always been transparent about my transformation from that mindset and have spent my personal and professional life making amends and apologizing through action, not just words."

  • Gunnigle tweeted her support in part saying, "His experience and heart for improving lives continues to make me proud to have him on my team."

Flashback: Franks served in the Missouri legislature but resigned in 2019, citing a need to tend to his family and mental health, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

  • A few months later he was fined $14,000 for spending campaign funds on personal expenses and failing to file accurate campaign finance reports.
  • He was also the star of a documentary called St. Louis Superman, which followed his journey from battle rapper to state representative.

Separately, the Maricopa County Attorney's Office charged Franks with aggravated assault on police, resisting arrest, rioting, criminal trespassing and unlawful assembly after his arrest at a protest in Phoenix in 2020 following the murder of George Floyd.

  • The county attorney's office dropped the charges last year following an investigation by ABC 15 that the charges were politically motivated.

Meanwhile: Gunnigle's opponent, Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell, has criticized Franks for anti-police rhetoric from earlier this year, which also was included in the screenshots.

  • "[Franks] is so anti-police that he has led many many demonstrations to defund the police and go after police officers. He's perfect for Miss Gunnigle. They're a perfect set because they hate the police officers," she said during a debate on 12 News Friday.

The other side: Gunnigle defended Franks saying he's "community-involved and community driven" and has "put his literal life and body on the line in defense of Black lives."

  • "If County Attorney Mitchell wants a character debate she really ought to stick with me because Bruce Franks Jr. is out of her league."

Of note: Mitchell and other Gunnigle detractors have criticized her throughout the campaign for her close connections with people who want to defund the police.

  • In July, Gunnigle would not tell Axios Phoenix whether she was personally supportive of defunding the police, saying the county attorney doesn't make decisions about police funding.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to show Frank Jr.'s tweets, date back to 2009, not 2019.


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