Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon Still Mum on Girlfriend Elissa Mullany's Role at City Hall
Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon still hasn't answered questions submitted to him by New Times on April 19.
The questions were e-mailed to Gordon per his new policy of no longer speaking personally with New Times or the Arizona Republic -- more accurately, he won't talk to reporters who probe him about his girlfriend and former fundraiser Elissa Mullany's role at City Hall.
Unanswered questions include whether he was aware that Mullany was working for Phoenix developer Steve Ellman, how many times he has flown in Ellman's personal jet, and who attended the Super Bowl in 2008 on $3,000 worth of tickets paid for by a fund for marketing and promoting downtown Phoenix
We reviewed 30 days of Gordon's e-mails related to Ellman and Mullany. While they shed some light on the depth of Mullany's involvement and influence in the Mayor's Office, they also raise more questions about who's interest she was serving.
New Times first reported that Mullany was working for Ellman, even though Jason Rose, who was hired by Gordon last year to manage news that Gordon and Mullany were dating (he has since relinquished that role), called it a "falsehood."
A draft of an undated memo or press release that Rose, the mayor's senior staffer Bill Scheel, Mullany, and Gordon were presumably working on confirms that Ellman hired Mullany. It revealed that Mullany had a contract with Ellman that ended in November 2009 and involved the "promotion of Phoenix and Valley investment opportunities."
Gordon's e-mails suggest that he and Mullany were at the Super Bowl in Miami earlier this year enjoying a suite in the stadium with Ellman. Someone named Tim Costen wrote to Gordon telling him that it had been nice to meet Mullany in Miami. In Gordon's reply to Costen, he mentioned billionaire businessman Carlos Slim's family from Mexico City and reminded Costen that Costen had met the Slims when "Steve or Nick" invited him to the suite at the Super Bowl.
Gordon wrote in this statement that he has been criticized for his efforts at attracting foreign investment in Phoenix. He said Mullany Wunder, his girlfriend's company, has "ably assisted in these efforts."
So is Mullany helping Gordon promote Phoenix in places such as Toronto, Montreal, Dubai, Jerusalem, and Saudi Arabia? Or is she using the Mayor's Office to gain greater access for her clients?
Marchelle Franklin, a senior assistant to Gordon, told the Republic in mid-March that "Mullany was traveling to the Middle East in both a personal and professional capacity.
"It's a continuation of the business relationships that she has had," Franklin told the daily. "She has been a part of it for the past two years."
Professional capacity for whom? Business relationships with whom?
Gordon appointed Mullany in 2008, while the two were dating, to the Global Trade Initiative, a now-defunct effort to seek out foreign investors. But he and Mullany continue to travel in search of investors.
In March, Mullany traveled to Qatar with Gordon on what was supposed to be a "working vacation" for the mayor. Several staffers were set to travel with Gordon, but at the last minute, he canceled their trip and took only Mullany.
Would a former fundraiser who does "event planning and community relations" (as Rose characterized Mullany's role in one of his e-mails) be able to land an audience with leaders of countries in the Middle East and around the world if she wasn't in the company of the mayor? Is she using her relationship with Gordon to bolster her own client list and their access?
And who are her other clients?
It wouldn't make a difference if she weren't conducting business through Gordon's office.
Gordon declared a conflict on March 3 on a City Council agenda item regarding Veolia Transportation, a company with a Phoenix transit contract. It isn't clear why Gordon declared a conflict. Has Veolia hired Mullany?
Rose suggested in an e-mail to his assistant, Scheel, that if asked, he should say he is "unaware of any work Elissa has done for Ellman or anyone else in the City of Phoenix."
While it is evident from four weeks' worth of e-mails that Mullany is involved with business interests in Gordon's office, unfortunately, no one will clarify that role.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Phoenix, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.