FirstStrategic or Mayor’s Office?
Claude Mattox is calling on mayoral candidate Wes Gullet to explain in detail how he intends to fulfill the duties of the mayor’s office while he remains a partner in the lobbying firm, FirstStrategic, that represents clients doing business with the city, neighboring communities and the state government.
During a televised debate sponsored by the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce last evening, Gullett said that he intends to maintain a financial interest in FirstStrategic in the event that he is elected mayor.
“Wes needs to tell the voters of Phoenix if he intends to represent them or continue to look out for the interests of the photo-radar companies, billboard companies, utilities, private water companies, developers and the home-building industry his firm has represented over the years,” Mattox said.
Under Gullet’s planned arrangement, he will “take a leave of absence” but maintain his financial stake in the firm. When questioned about the conflicts of interest after Monday night’s televised debate, Gullett called the discussion “much ado about nothing.”
“You can’t take a leave of absence from ethics,” Mattox said. “At a time when lobbying scandals are routine in Washington, and the Fiesta Bowl scandal has ensnared both elected officials and lobbyists at the state capital, do we really want this climate to infiltrate City Hall too? This isn’t just a matter of the fox guarding the hen house. This is the fox having an office and staff in the hen house.”
Gullett’s determination to maintain his financial interest in his lobbying firm should he be elected raises numerous possible scenarios and an almost incalculable number of questions. Among them include:
- As mayor, will Gullett need to abstain from every vote, involving building codes, development standards, and even planned residential development, because FirstStrategic represents the home-building industry?
- How can Gullett obtain cooperation and secure regional agreements on transportation and economic development issues with the mayors of neighboring communities while FirstStrategic is lobbying and protecting the interest of clients in those same communities?
- With Gullett sitting in the mayor’s office on the 11th floor of City Hall and still getting a paycheck from his lobbying firm, how will city staff and council be able to objectively address issues brought to them by other FirstStrategic partners and their lobbying clients?
- How will Gullett manage to work with the Arizona Legislature and forcefully represent the interest of Phoenix residents while his lobbying firm is representing special interest at the Capitol?
“It’s an old adage, but so true: you cannot serve two masters,” Mattox said. “Wes needs to tell the people of Phoenix that should he be elected mayor, he will be fully committed to represent them, and not his special interest clients.”