A conservative think-tank is demanding that the city of Phoenix release two years' worth of "activity logs" for Mayor Phil Gordon's security detail -- a set of records the city has previously refused to turn over.
Judicial Watch, based in Washington, D.C., quietly sent a letter to the city on December 11, demanding that the records be produced within 10 days. Chris Farrell, the agency's director of research, says that the organization has yet to get a response. It's now revving up for a lawsuit.
"We'll litigate it," he told New Times when reached by phone earlier today. "We're very persistent. We're like a bad rash. We don't go away."
That persistence stands in stark contrast to the Arizona Republic. As editorial page writer Monica Alonzo-Dunsmoor first disclosed in an analysis published on Sunday, she actually asked for the logs last July while exploring the relationship between Gordon and his fundraiser/girlfriend Elissa Mullany.
The logs long have been rumored among those in the know at City Hall to contain some damning information about Gordon, although it's unclear what precisely is supposed to be in there-- since, of course, the city has yet to release them.
Indeed, when the Republic's Alonzo-Dunsmoor put in a public records request for the logs, she reported that she quickly received a phone call from Gordon himself, who demanded to know what she was looking for, according to her account published Sunday. He also told Alonzo-Dunsmoor that her request would be denied for "security reasons," she wrote.
Even though taxpayers foot the bill for Gordon's security detail, and even though the mayor's home address is easy to come by, Alonzo-Dunsmoor got nowhere. "My request was denied, just as Gordon said it would be," Alonzo-Dunsmoor reported.
The paper apparently didn't pursue the matter further. Alonzo-Dunsmoor's story didn't get into why that was the case.
But Judicial Watch should be harder for the city to dismiss so quickly. The organization, which received a significant amount of its startup funding from billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife, thrives on litigation. It famously dogged the Clinton White House with lawsuits, including one forcing open the records on Hillary Clinton's disastrous attempts to reform healthcare. Equal-opportunity muckrakers, Judicial Watch is also credited with forcing up the Bush White House records detailing Jack Abramoff's visits.
Judicial Watch is asking for records from December 30, 2007, to the present. Through his public-relations team, the mayor has insisted that he did not begin dating Mullany until spring 2008. (Both Gordon and Mullany are married, but separated from their spouses. Gordon is in the process of divorcing.)
Judicial Watch's Farrell, like the Republic's Alonzo-Dunsmoor, linked the records to Gordon's relationship to Mullany.
"We're looking into Phil Gordon and his various 'special friends'," he said. "I'm using that term very loosely."
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The security detail is staffed by members of the Phoenix Police Department. The union respresenting those members, PLEA, has been publicly critical of Gordon.
Farrell said his team expects to be getting involved in a number of issues in the Valley. "We like getting stuff and making it available to the public so they can make up their own minds and make their own decisions," he told New Times. "We do FOIA and state public records work all the time. This is bread and butter for us."
The city's public information office didn't get back to us with a comment late yesterday afternoon. We'll let you know when/if we hear more.
And if anyone wants to tell us what's supposedly in those logs? We have to admit, our curiosity only grows as the records remain under wraps.