Phoenix council members’ Suns arena suite usage raises ethics questions


Phoenix councilmembers Betty Guardado, Laura Pastor, Michael Nowakowski and Carlos Garcia (right) step to the front of the stage and raise their hands after Guardado and Garcia took the oath of office during inauguration ceremony on June 6, 2019, at the Orpheum Theatre in Phoenix, Ariz.”/>

When details surfaced of how Phoenix City Council members used the city’s luxury suite at the Suns arena, it didn’t take long for insinuations to fly, three months ahead of a city council run-off election, that they did it for personal gain.

For years, the city has had access to the box to promote economic development, but a flap over how councilmembers attended playoff games and concerts the past two years is prompting discussion over whether or when such activity is ethically acceptable.

While no one at City Hall says councilmembers violated the suite usage policy, some there are questioning whether it was appropriate for elected leaders to attend events in the skybox with campaign donors. Others wonder if it causes a perception problem.

Councilmembers Carlos Garcia, Laura Pastor, Yassamin Ansari and Betty Guardado, plus some of their staffers, attended Suns playoff games and concerts in the city’s private suite at the Footprint Center. It was first reported by Axios Phoenix. One of the events included a leader from a union that illegally donated to Garcia.