Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon established a federal political action committee in late 2007, hoping, he later said, to "educate members of Congress on the needs in Phoenix."
But in its two years of activity to date, the committee's biggest beneficiary has been Gordon's girlfriend, Elissa Mullany.
Federal election records show that, to date, Gordon's committee, Moving Phoenix Forward, has paid Mullany and her limited liability company $104,497 -- most of it in $8,000 monthly fees for "committee management."
And, records show, that absolutely dwarfs the money that Gordon has used to support (and win influence with) members of Congress: They've received just $58,600 in contributions from the committee. The Arizona Democratic Party received an additional $10,000.
New Times reported on the questions about Mullany's work as a fundraiser for Gordon yesterday. The mayor went public with the relationship in hopes of heading off questions from media outlets.
The detailed financial statements filed by the mayor's political action committee, however, present plenty of fodder for follow up.
Mullany was one of Gordon's biggest fundraisers in the 2007 mayoral race. And, after that effort ended in success -- and a $370,000 surplus -- he began to pay her through other funds: through a privately funded partnership pursuing business relations with Dubai, monthly retainer fees from his campaign committee, and (most expensively) through his newly formed federal PAC.
To date, records show, the federal PAC has spent almost half of the $217,861 that it's raised on Mullany's two-person company.
Perhaps because of the outsized monthly payments to Mullany's company, at the time of its most recent filing, the committee had just $29,719 in cash, records show.
In addition to Mullany's company's fees, Gordon has also spent $16,065 in committee funds on travel for himself, Mullany, and other committee staff.
That total includes $786 for someone to stay at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, in Chevy Chase, Maryland, and a $1,236 bill at the "hip boutique hotel" Hotel George on Washington, D.C.'s "E" Street.
The committee has also spent $4,000 on other fundraisers, $27,000 on an "compliance consultant," and $4,500 on "compliance software."
The payments to Mullany are interesting not just because of their size and her relationship with Gordon. But because, at the same time, Gordon was paying Mullany's company nearly $4,000 at a month through a different committee -- at a time that committee reported little to no activity.
Elections law experts tell New Times it's okay for the mayor to pay his girlfriend for her work as a fundraiser or administrator -- but it's not okay if the payments are a way for him to benefit (if, say, the money is ultimately subsidizing their life together.)
The couple's PR flack, Jason Rose, stresses that the pair don't live together or have a shared bank account. He also noted that it takes time to set up a successful fundraising effort.
The mayor recently went public with his relationship with Mullany, which Rose says began in the spring of 2008 when both were separated from their spouses.
The mayor's asked the city attorney and former Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas Zlaket to examine his work with Mullany for any improprieties.
We left a message for Mullany with Rose yesterday. We'll let you know if we hear back.