Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon earlier this week defended hiring Sue Lindmeier, sister of his girlfriend's business partner, saying former Phoenix City Manager Frank Fairbanks and City Attorney Gary Verburg reviewed and approved her contract.
Fairbanks, who retired in November, said today it isn't true that he approved Lindmeier's contract.
"I've never heard of her in my life," Fairbanks said. "I did not approve [any contract]. And I didn't say no, either. I simply didn't know about it. But my guess is, if I had known about it, I would have had some serious concerns."
Verburg refused to comment.
David Leibowitz, Gordon's new spokesman (since PR flack Jason Rose left the mayor's employ recently) could not be reached for comment Friday afternoon.
Lindmeier was hired by Gordon on a private contract from June to December to manage the remodeling of his Phoenix home. At the same time, she was working for MullanyWunder, a company co-owned by Gordon's girlfriend, Elissa Mullany. Mullany's business partner, Cate Wunder, is Lindmeier's sister.
The Arizona Republic reported that during June and July, Lindmeier was also working in the Mayor's Office as a part-time aide. She was getting paid about $4,000 a month by taxpayers to manage Gordon's travel schedule, his calendar, and to attract national political conventions.
She had another job during June and July, too, for Phoenix Councilman Sal DiCiccio as a fund-raiser.
The Phoenix City Charter prohibits any person employed by the city from participating in political campaigns tied to city elected offices "in any way beyond voting and privately expressing personal opinions."
DiCiccio confirmed that she was working for him during those months, but he said he did not know that she was also working for the city.
"You can't do that," he said of her simultaneous fund-raising activities/work for the mayor.
His campaign finance records show that DiCiccio paid Lindmeier (via MullanyWunder) $7,050 in June and another $7,500 in July.
She left the Mayor's Office in July to work solely on DiCiccio's political campaign. After the election, she returned in November as a contract city employee with the same salary.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Phoenix New Times's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Phoenix's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
DiCiccio paid Lindmeier $11,087 on November 23. In all, she made just under $50,000 from DiCiccio's campaign.
Fairbanks said, while he was city manager, he tried to limit the number of contract employees that were hired to avoid such improprieties.
"To my knowledge, she never went through the city's personnel process," Fairbanks said about Lindmeier. "The city shouldn't just be hiring people out of the blue because they know someone. There should be a competitive process."
Fairbanks is a smart man. Too bad Gordon didn't actually run Lindmeier's contracts by him.