Lake Ray’s estranged sister endorses, donates to HD 16 Primary opponent
Lake Ray is on the left. Lori Ray Yarborough is on the far right. Photo via Lori Ray Yarborough.

Rays
The family drama complicates a story about a small dollar donation in Jacksonville House race.

Intrigue continues in the three-way Republican Primary race in Duval County’s House District 16, with one candidate’s sister donating to an opponent in what seems to be an ongoing churn of family drama.

Lori Ray donated $50 this week to the Kiyan Michael campaign. Lori Ray is the sister of Lake Ray, who is also running for an open seat in a new district encompassing the Jacksonville beach communities and parts of the Jacksonville Southside.

Lori Ray’s married name is Yarborough, but she said she used her maiden name to make the donation to underscore a larger point.

Ray’s campaign was contacted about the circumstances of the donation and the story changed over time.

Ray and his political consultant initially denied any relation, leading to the article being pulled until Lori Ray emailed Florida Politics, sent us photographic proof, and offered plenty of corroborating details establishing the relationship, including their mutual blood type and other specific childhood anecdotes.

“My name is Lori Ray Yarborough, sister of Lake Ray. I am endorsing and financially supporting Kiyan Michael because she is the only one who will fight for a strong border,” she emailed. “I just want you to hear it from me in case anyone is denying my relationship with my brother Lake Ray. I am his youngest sister who lives in Duluth, Georgia.”

From there, the Ray campaign conceded that she was in fact really his sister, but “estranged.”

“The woman in this article, Lori Ray of Duluth, GA, is in fact my sister, whom we know as Lori Yarborough of St. John, GA. As sometimes happens with families we have become estranged over a number of years and do not speak regularly. Our estrangement stems from a disagreement over our father’s estate. It is obvious that my sister had the intention of using my campaign to create a story for her own personal gain. It is unfortunate that she has chosen to attempt to hurt me in this way, but I wish her nothing but the best,” the full statement read.

Michael, Ray, and Jacksonville Beach City Councilman Chet Stokes all are vying for the Republican nomination in a Primary closed by two Republicans filing as write-in candidates. Ray and Stokes have slammed each other with hard-hitting attacks for months, seemingly ignoring Michael, who was way behind in fundraising, but whose fortunes turned when she scored the endorsement of Gov. Ron DeSantis.

The Governor’s political committee, Friends of Ron DeSantis, contributed $50,000 to the Friends of Kiyan Michael political committee in late July. That contribution is by far the biggest donation Michael has received in this campaign and helps her close the gap with her two opponents.

Stokes has been the cash leader throughout this race, and he is well-positioned for the stretch. He had nearly $260,000 on hand through July 22 between his campaign account and his political committee, Strengthening Florida’s Future. He loaned his campaign $50,000 in the week before July 22, and has put in $200,000 of his own money so far.

Ray represented HD 12 from 2008 to 2016, and drew endorsements from Associated Industries of Florida and the Fraternal Order of Police this week. He had roughly $185,000 on hand as of the most recent numbers reflecting pre-July 22 activity between his campaign account and the A Stronger Florida for Us political committee.

Updated fundraising totals for all candidates are due by the end of the week.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


12 comments

  • Betty C

    August 3, 2022 at 5:51 pm

    If the sister is estranged, where is the story? Sounds like the Ray campaign said there was no relation when it was not the correct name. Rough reporting by AG.

    Reply

  • Susan R

    August 3, 2022 at 6:44 pm

    Lake Ray’s been campaigning as a Christian and family man. I think the article proves otherwise.

    Reply

  • Paul B

    August 3, 2022 at 6:46 pm

    Leave it up to a career politician to lie about his own flesh and blood. Lost my vote.

    Reply

  • Former employee of Lake Ray

    August 3, 2022 at 8:18 pm

    I worked for Lake Ray, Jr for many years. Lake Ray III has never been nothing but an empty suit because he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. Lake Ray III rolled into politics on his father’s coattails. Notice how he never uses his suffix. Lake Ray, Jr would be turning over in his gave at how Lake III disowned his own sister. Few people realize that Lake Ray III is the career politician for this election.

    Reply

  • Jim D.

    August 4, 2022 at 12:25 am

    Sounds like Kiyan supporters are terrified, claiming to have changed their votes ect, which we all know is bs as they’re posting on every comment section they can find. Interesting tactic though, trash the other candidates while covering up for Kiyan’s Democrat past. Funny how she hasn’t mentioned her other children… wonder why it’s only Brandon…. Sounds like Ray’s sister is batshit crazy with serious mental issues. Sure I occasionally fight with my brother and sister but dang to follow it up, that’s a whole different level. Chet’s enjoying the distraction from the limelight of lying about his degree and avoiding any public statements about the active Warrant. Ray might have a sister who is trying to audition for Jerry Springer,, but based on what I’ve seen on his record I might give him the nod unless Chet comes out and owns his lie and explain why he did it.

    Reply

  • Alex

    August 4, 2022 at 1:01 am

    Anyone else find it strange that she reached out to Florida Politics? It sounds like she’s got a mental issue or a dependency on drugs to provide all that information to a random blogger. Sounds like the “employee” is actually the crazy sister. A great story for Jerry Springer but is this really “news?” I used to love the articles but this sounds like a piece from a tabloid.

    Reply

  • Ray supporter

    August 4, 2022 at 4:17 am

    Many families have estranged family members. It happens. And these members try to hurt the other members. This story means nothing. Lake Ray is a good political and person, and I still support him.

    Reply

  • Debbie H

    August 4, 2022 at 8:45 am

    I’ve known Lori for a good while.. She has MS, takes very strong medications to manage pain, regularly uses marijuana and has a mental illness. It is unfortunate someone would take advantage of a senior citizen with a mental illness and MS like Lori Yarborough and post a “story” about it.

    The fact is, this isn’t a story, it’s teetering on elder abuse. At best it’s gossip, at worst it’s

    Reply

  • It's Complicated

    August 4, 2022 at 9:21 am

    Squabbles over family estates has divided and estranged many a family. I know of two Tallahassee families that divided over estates. One ended with a sibling doing a drive-by shooting on another sibling’s home (probably <$500K of estate value, with three siblings). Another where previously very close family members went to their graves unreconciled 30+ years after a disagreement over a trunk full of literal fabric scraps (which likely ended up on the curb when the possessor of the trunk died). Selfishness, pride, entitlement, and sometimes mental illness is often the root of it.

    Reply

  • Beach Leader

    August 4, 2022 at 9:58 am

    Shame on Kiyan Michael and her Tallahassee political consultant for bringing up issues within someone else’s family.

    Shame.

    Reply

  • Tom B.

    August 4, 2022 at 11:31 am

    I grew up with the Ray family. All 4 children grew up to be successful adults with beautiful families. If Lake and Sandy could see the way their children had been fighting they would be mortified. Though politically I do not support Lake 3, I send his family well wishes. And though I have not seen Lori since her father’s funeral, I know that she is not mentally unstable as some are trying to paint her as. She loved her parents fiercely as well as her siblings. Death in a family sure does have a way of tearing a family apart.

    Reply

  • Steve C

    August 4, 2022 at 12:59 pm

    Where did you find the $50,000 donation from Friends of Ron DeSantis political committee to Kiyan Michael? I’ve checked both campaign’s committees on the Divbions of Elections website and can find no contribution/expenditure of that amount.

    Reply

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