Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon Gets Into Arizona D-Backs' Game Free; Arizona Law Says That's a No-No

Categories: City Hall
Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon is many things, but not much of a sports fan.

That didn't stop him from attending a Opening Day game for the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Interesting because Arizona passed a law in 2000 that prohibits elected officials from accepting free tickets to sporting or cultural events. It's a law known as the "entertainment ban."

Debra Stark, Gordon's chief of staff, confirmed that the mayor did not pay for his April 5 Opening Day "ticket." Gordon had a sweet seat, too, sitting up close to the action alongside team executives and Arizona Governor Jan Brewer. We have a call in to Paul Senseman, Brewer's spokesman, to see if she paid for her ticket to the game.

You may ask, Is this just a technical violation? Perhaps, but a violation, nonetheless.

In Gordon's case, however, it is part of a larger pattern of behavior that he has demonstrated in office. He still won't answer questions about who paid for him and his girlfriend and former political fundraiser, Elissa Mullany, to get into Super Bowl games in Glendale and in Miami.

Initially, Stark told New Times that Gordon didn't accept any ticket or tickets from the team.

"The Mayor has attended only one game this season and that was for 20 minutes on opening day," Stark told New Times via e-mail. "He was there in a ceremonial position wearing a jersey, recognized as the Mayor and supporter of the D-backs and that was it."

She added that the "D-backs have offered no ticket to him. If they offered ticket[s] to him, he is fully aware that he would have to pay face value. "

Stark later confirmed that Gordon did not pay for his ticket and reiterated that he was only there for a short time and sat long enough only to chat with a few folks.
 
The state law doesn't make any exception for a mayor or elected official who show up wearing a jersey, who shakes hands with players, or who sits for only 20 minutes. Public officials are not supposed to get in free.

We asked Arizona Diamondbacks' Vice President of Communication Shaun Rachau just how many times Gordon had been given tickets to D-backs games. Rachau initially said he wasn't sure but that he would look into it and get back to us. He never did, despite further inquiries by New Times.

City Attorney Gary Verburg also has ignored repeated requests for comment on this issue. But in March, when questions were raised about Gordon and Mullany traveling to Qatar on that government's dime, Verburg made a clear distinction regarding the so-called entertainment ban.

From a March 19 Arizona Republic article:

"But City Attorney Gary Verburg said the state entertainment ban, enacted by the Legislature in 2000, only applies to sporting or cultural events. Travel and lodging - even if it's a vacation - are exempt."

City officials will surely come up with a reason to excuse Gordon from getting into a game  free. After all, it's just one ticket that probably cost less than $300.

If no one in the city is interested in knowing how Gordon and his girlfriend got into two Super Bowls, why would they get twisted up over a the one ticket to a D-backs game. Well, one that we know of.

Adding this ticket to a laundry list of questionable actions simply adds more detail to an unflattering picture Gordon has revealed of himself. Try as he may, he can't mask it by touting how much stimulus money Phoenix has received from the feds, nor can he detract from it by jumping on the anti-SB 1070 bandwagon.

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