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Wes Gullett, Phoenix Mayoral Candidate, Raises Questions About Lobbying Interests of Candidates' Spouses; His Wife is the Only One With Lobbying Ties

Phoenix mayoral candidate Wes Gullett, who just today said he'd walk away from his lobbying firm if elected mayor, included this nugget in his press release.

"I hope that Mr. Stanton will live by his pledge and not have any community property interests in lobbying firms as well," Gullett said.

"Community property" refers to shared property or interests between a married couple. 

Gullett's statement comes in response to a "No Lobbyists in the Mayor's Office" pledge that Greg Stanton, a former councilman and mayoral candidate, challenged his opponents to sign on Monday night during a live mayor's debate.

Stanton was taking a clear shot at Gullett, who is a lobbyist and founding partner at FirstStrategic, a high-profile Valley lobbying and public affairs firm.

In response to Stanton and other critics, Gullett now says he will divest all his interests in his firm if he is elected mayor. All well and good, but then Gullett brings up the idea of "community property interests in lobbying firms."

Odd that it would be Gullett bringing up spouses' ties with lobbying firms given that his wife, Deb Gullett, is a lobbyist for Gallagher and Kennedy, also a Phoenix law firm.

A tactical error from the Gullett camp?

It appears that Gullett misfired in his attempt to take a shot at Stanton via his wife, Nicole, who is partner at Quarles & Brady law firm. She practices commercial litigation.

The reference in Gullett's press release is likely about Triadvocates, an Arizona lobbying firm once owned by Quarles & Brady.

A Google search this morning did bring up an outdated page listing Triadvocates as a "wholly-owned subsidiary" of the Quarles & Brady law firm.

But that relationship was severed months ago.

Jon Pettibone, managing partner at Quarles & Brady's Phoenix office confirmed for New Times that there is no relationship between the two companies.

"Quarles & Brady maintains no cross ownership or compensatory relationship with any lobbying firm," Pettibone says. "As of March 31, 2011, Quarles & Brady divested any interest it had in the Arizona-based firm of Triadvocates, LLC.  That group is now 100% independently owned by the principals of Triadvocates."

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But with Gullett opening the door now on the interests of candidates' spouses in lobbying firms, the public eye is back on him. That's because in the world of conflict of interests, spouses are one in the same. The financial interest of one spouse carries over to the other.

Even if Gullett sheds his interests in his own lobbying firm, he would still have to recuse himself from voting or participating on issues for which his wife is lobbying on behalf of Gallagher and Kennedy.

And, if he were elected, Gullett would no doubt have to contend with ongoing appearances of conflicts over city business with Gallagher and Kennedy's other lobbying clients -- which is a list of major corporations in the Valley and includes the City of Phoenix. (See a list of Gallagher and Kennedy clients on the Arizona Secretary of State website.) 

Even if Deb Gullett wasn't personally lobbying on a particular issue, questions would be raised simply because of her ties to the firm and her nuptials with Gullett.

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