DiCiccio asks AG to look at Suns arena vote after spat with former GM
PHOENIX — Phoenix City Councilman Sal DiCiccio is asking the Arizona Attorney General’s Office to look into a 2019 vote that secured $150 million in public funds for renovations to the Phoenix Suns’ arena after getting into a social media spat with the team’s former general manager.
DiCiccio sent a letter Monday to Attorney General Mark Brnovich requesting his office investigate the possibility donations made to former District 5 councilmembers Vania Guevara and Daniel Valenzuela by Suns owner Robert Sarver led to Guevara voting ‘yes’ on the measure.
The move comes after DiCiccio and former Suns GM Ryan McDonough battled on Twitter late last week following a tweet from DiCiccio in which he called NBA players who were boycotting to bring awareness to policy brutality and racial injustice “whiny (expletive).”
McDonough fired back, accusing DiCiccio of being a “crooked, racist politician” who took campaign donations from Sarver despite voting ‘no’ on the renovation plan.
The January 2019 vote passed 6-2 with DiCiccio and Jim Waring voting no.
DiCiccio denied the accusation and said Guevara, appointed to the council in August 2018 after Valenzuela announced his intention to run for mayor, also was expected to vote no.
“Something made her change her mind,” DiCiccio said in the letter. “I am not claiming that there was something nefarious, but it is up to your office to determine whether there was.”
After the vote, a political action committee in favor of Guevara’s reelection received $50,000 from Sarver while a PAC in support of Valenzuela’s mayoral run received $100,000 from the Suns owner, according to DiCiccio.
Sarver and the Suns also donated $2.6 million to the city’s Head Start program in Guevara’s district in September 2019.
Guevara left office in June 2019.
“In light of this, it is critical you get to the bottom of what Mr. McDonough was talking about, though his allegations against me are patently false,” DiCiccio said.
Under the arena deal, the city will contribute no more than $150 million of the $234.9 million estimated cost. The Suns, who operate the city-owned facility, will cover the rest, including any overruns.
The city’s portion will come from its Sports Facilities Fund, which is made up of tourism taxes on hotels and rental cars.
The project at Talking Stick Resort Arena is expected to be completed in 2021.