Judicial Watch Files New Court Brief in Legal Pursuit of Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon’s Security Detail
Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced today that it has filed a new memorandum with the Superior Court for the State of Arizona in its legal pursuit of documents related to Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon’s taxpayer-funded security detail (Judicial Watch, Inc. v City of Phoenix (Civil Action CV2010-015452)). The City of Phoenix continues to improperly withhold activity logs related to Mayor Gordon’s security detail, as well as a detailed version of the Mayor’s calendar, citing supposed privacy and safety concerns. The purpose of Judicial Watch’s lawsuit is to determine whether the Mayor’s security detail is wasteful or is being used for “personal purposes.”
On December 11, 2009, Judicial Watch requested that the Phoenix Police Department provide access to the following public records:
All activity logs for Mayor Phil Gordon’s Security Detail. The time frame for this request is December 30, 2007 to the present.
…disclosure of the requested logs will help the public to appreciate the size, scope, and duties of the Mayor’s police detail and the activities of the officers assigned to it, including whether the detail has been used for official purposes only or if it also has been used for non-official or personal purposes as well,” Judicial Watch noted in its complaint, filed on May 17, 2010.
In a letter dated January 4, 2010, the City of Phoenix refused to produce the requested records, specifically stating “the City is not disclosing daily logs…” (The City had previously refused to release these same documents to the Arizona Republic newspaper as well.) Instead, the City offered to release the Mayor’s publicly available calendar from August 2009 to the present, which was an inadequate response to Judicial Watch’s request. Judicial Watch then filed its lawsuit.
The City of Phoenix subsequently disclosed for the first time in its response to Judicial Watch’s lawsuit that it is in possession of a version of the Mayor’s “public calendar” that is more than just a calendar. It includes detailed handwritten notes by members of Mayor Gordon’s security detail that may be responsive to Judicial Watch’s request. Nonetheless, the City continues to withhold this version of the calendar, as well as the Mayor’s activity logs described by the City as “Unscheduled Worksheets,” citing alleged privacy and security concerns.
Judicial Watch maintains, however, that the City has “failed to establish a proper basis to withhold the requested records.” As noted in its recently filed memorandum, the records at issue are public records, not private, and are therefore subject to disclosure under Arizona Public Records Law. Moreover, regarding security concerns, the City has failed to “demonstrate why disclosure of records of past activity is significant when many of the Mayor’s planned locations are announced in advance, sometimes even ‘tweeted’ to any interested party.”
The Court has already turned back the City’s efforts to dismiss the lawsuit and has set an evidentiary hearing for September 27, 2010, which may include live witness testimony.
“The City is simply grasping at straws trying to explain why these public records should be withheld. This is a simple request for documents that should be readily available to the public,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “The City of Phoenix’s response to our simple request has been full of hysterics. There is no reason for Mayor Gordon to keep these records secret unless he has something to hide.”
Judicial Watch believes these records could, among other things, shed light on possible misuse of taxpayer resources to further a personal relationship between Mayor Gordon and his chief campaign fundraiser Elissa Mullaney. Gordon admitted in December 2009 to a romantic relationship with Mullaney. (Both Gordon and Mullaney are married but separated from their spouses.) Press reports have suggested that Gordon’s security detail was used to transport Mullaney at taxpayer expense, which could be in violation of the law.
Since 2005, Mullaney’s company has also received more than $340,000 in fees to raise funds for Gordon’s campaigns and to work on other City initiatives. Mullaney received $200,000 of these funds after she and Gordon initiated their relationship. Former Arizona Supreme Court Justice Thomas A. Zlaket, hired by Gordon to review the matter, cleared the Mayor of any wrongdoing in this specific instance, noting the state’s conflict of interest law does not cover girlfriends, only family members.