Maricopa County Democrats’ Executive Director Resigns Amid Nepotism Controversy

August 27, 2023

By Corinne Murdock |  

Maricopa County Democratic Party’s (MCDP) executive director resigned following a media report on a nepotistic arrangement with her Black Lives Matter (BLM) longtime activist fiancé resulting in hundreds of thousands of unsent mailers. The soon-to-be-wed couple behind the arrangement share a history of shadowy political financial dealings.   

The executive director, Ne’Lexia Galloway, resigned earlier this month, hours after an initial Axios report on 100,000 unsent campaign mailers preceding last year’s election.   

MCDP paid nearly $24,500 to political consulting firm Agave Strategy for the mailers. A consultant informed Axios that Galloway instructed their firm to contract her fiancé’s company, Blaque Printing Enterprise owned by Bruce Franks, Jr., as a sub-vendor for the mailers. The firm reimbursed MCDP for the mailers in late January — but only after lawyers reportedly reached out on MCDP’s behalf. 

According to emails obtained by Arizona Progress Gazette, precinct committeeman Steven Jackson challenged that what MCDP Chair Nancy Schriber characterized as incompetence in vendor dealing was actually malfeasance. Jackson pointed out that knowledge of the nepotistic mailers wasn’t disseminated until after Schriber’s re-election, and that several of their candidates lost in close elections last year.   

In a statement, former MCDP Treasurer Heather Mrowiec alleged that she attempted to investigate the mailers last September despite Schriber’s resistance. Mrowiec reportedly found numerous red flags concerning the contracted mailers: the mailing and printing costs exceeded the agreed payment terms, as well as standardized United States Postal Service (USPS) mailing costs; no records existed of other vendor bids or any written contract, with Galloway allegedly telling Mrowiec that no other vendors could take on the project; forged USPS postage receipts, with Galloway allegedly telling Mrowiec initially that postage receipts proving delivery weren’t necessary; and retaliation against Mrowiec for investigating in the form of Galloway whipping votes to oppose her as treasurer.  

“The vendor never disclosed who their print vendor was, and they were unable to provide any of the normal artifacts that would be generated during a routine direct mail translation — such as emails approving the proofs from the printer, address barcode lists provided by the printer, canceled checks for the postage, invoices from the print vendor, or legitimate Bulk Mail postage forms,” stated Mrowiec. “The money was only returned to MCDP after the vendor was contacted by lawyers reaching out on our behalf, as well as being contacted by the media with questions about the transaction.”  

Galloway has prided herself as the first black woman to lead the county party; race aside, her leadership has been rife with controversy. Weeks after MCDP received the mailer reimbursement, Galloway fired nearly all of MCDP staff. Political circles widely perceived the move as self-preservation amid flagging operations and the mailer debacle.

Last year, Galloway’s repeated purchasing from her fiancé’s company prompted the MCDP board to implement a Conflict of Interest policy preventing any board member or employee from directing business to a vendor owned by themselves, family, or partners without review and approval by the board.   

MCDP paid Galloway’s fiancé’s company over $4,600 from last January through October: over $4,200 for t-shirts and $400 for postcards. Other Democratic candidates also paid the company, including over $5,400 for flyers from former superintendent Kathy Hoffman’s re-election campaign.  

According to her MCDP bio, Galloway also served as the outreach representative for Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ-03). Although Galloway featured her former boss, she issued a public statement denouncing Gallego shortly after assuming the executive director role. 

Prior to that, Galloway served as state manager for the Democratic National Committee (DNC) Organizing Corps 2020 program, and chair of the Arizona Democratic Party Young Black Caucus.  

Galloway and her fiancé, Franks, appear to share a common pension for political drama. Unsent mailers are far from the first or worst of shadowy political dealings involving Franks.  

Franks served as the controversial campaign manager for failed Democratic Maricopa County attorney candidate Julie Gunnigle. Under Franks, Gunnigle’s campaign faced allegations of vague and misleading campaign finance reporting.   

The Public Integrity Alliance (PIA) sent a letter last Halloween to the Maricopa County Elections Department alleging that hundreds of thousands in campaign transactions may have been disguised to hide how the Gunnigle campaign truly spent its funding. 

Challenged campaign transactions included about $354,800 (79 percent) of campaign receipts going to a political consulting firm owned by Democratic Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar’s husband: about $7,800 categorized as “printing,” and nearly $347,000 categorized as “consulting.”   

PIA also noted that the Gunnigle campaign used an Arizona address for the Omar-linked firm, despite no such registration existing with the Arizona Corporation Commission.   

Another set of challenged campaign transactions included up to $26,500 allegedly spent on Google advertisements. However, Google records show that it received payment from Gunnigle’s 2018 state legislative campaign committee — not the county attorney campaign.   

“[T]he Public Integrity Alliance is requesting that the department take steps to ensure that Ms. Gunnigle[s] committee is not misrepresenting its political activities to the public through third parties,” said the organization. 

AZ Free News inquired about any response to the complaint letter. We didn’t receive a response by press time.  

Franks was also formerly a Missouri state legislator who’d risen to prominence in the political scene in 2014 for his Black Lives Matter (BLM) activism spurred by the death of Michael Brown. When Franks began his activism, he’d joined the Peacekeepers.   

In 2017, his first year as a lawmaker, Franks was arrested for intervening in another arrest while participating in a Black Friday protest. Franks and other activists were protesting the acquittal of former St. Louis officer Jason Stockley.   

In 2018, Black Entertainment Television (BET) celebrated Franks as one of their “Great 28” individuals, known as “The Disruptors.” In 2019, Franks was the subject of a documentary film, “St. Louis Superman,” later purchased by MTV.  

Just months later, Franks resigned from the legislature following allegations that he used campaign donations for his own personal use including vet bills, photography for his children, iTunes, and a casino trip. Franks also faced fines for thousands in cash expenditures and contribution acceptances over state limits.  

The Missouri Ethics Commission found the allegations against Franks to be true, and fined him over $14,100 for campaign finance violations that year. In 2021, the commission raised their fine to $89,299 upon further investigation. 

Despite these revelations of ethics violations, MTV aired Franks’ documentary across their networks in May 2020.  

Franks left Missouri for Arizona not long after the ethics scandal. About a year later, he was making headlines again. In September 2020 Franks filed a $2.4 million claim against the city over his arrest the previous month at a Black Lives Matter (BLM) riot that he helped organize. Franks was charged with 13 counts, including aggravated assault on an officer, participating in a riot, resisting arrest, trespassing, and soliciting others to commit criminal offenses. 

In February 2021, Franks took to the media to claim that Phoenix officers targeted him and fabricated the charges against him. His outcry was quickly amplified by prominent Democrats across the nation, including Hollywood actor Mark Ruffalo (“The Hulk”) — whose ear Franks’ fiancé, Galloway, appears to have had based on Ruffalo’s participation in her 2020 Get Out the Vote Rally.

Franks appeared confident that the rallying cry from the most powerful corners of the Democratic establishment would result in the charges being dropped.  

“Trust me just watch!” tweeted Franks.

A month later, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office (MCAO) dropped the charges against Franks and 11 other defendants arrested at the BLM riot he helped lead.   

In July 2021, Franks and fellow activists sued the city in the Arizona District Court, alleging political persecution. The lawsuit is ongoing (Acton v. Adel).  

Franks’ lawsuit against Phoenix wasn’t his first lawsuit against a local government following his arrest at a riot. In May 2019, St. Louis County settled with Franks for $50,000. As part of the settlement, the county and Franks admitted no wrongdoing on behalf of the St. Louis officers, and Franks was required to delete all social media posts containing an edited video of his arrest at a 2014 Christmas Eve riot.  

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to

Get FREE News Delivered to Your Inbox!

Corporate media seeks stories that serve its own interests. But you deserve to know what’s really going on in your community. Stay up to date on the latest in Arizona by signing up to get FREE news delivered to your inbox.

You May Also Like …

Connect with us!


A project of the Arizona Freedom Foundation  |  All Rights Reserved 2023  |  Code of Ethics  |  Privacy Policy

Share This