For Immediate Release
November 2, 2006
Contact: R.T. Gregg
Media Ignores Key Facts in Coverage of Giffords' Land Deal
As expected, the Graf campaign’s exposure of a land-lease deal involving Gabrielle Giffords and the City of Tucson has hit a nerve. What we didn’t expect was that the Arizona Daily Star would be unable to honor its duty to the public and base its coverage on the facts instead of its editorial board’s allegiance to Gabrielle Giffords.
In its article about the Graf for Congress ad (Graf Ad Attacks Giffords Land Deal, 11/1), the Daily Star chose to ignore critical facts about the land-lease arrangement, a deal that has taxpayers holding the bag while the Giffords family ultimately reaps millions in profit.
Here are the facts conveniently overlooked by the Daily Star:
According to the Articles of Organization, Gabrielle Giffords is a manager of Giffords Management Group, which operates El Campo Rentals, along with a partner. As a manager she had executive power of the lease deal even though her signature was not required. (According to the Tucson Citizen, Giffords’ campaign office contacted the Arizona Secretary of State’s office yesterday asking it to remove Giffords name as manager from the Articles of Organization, calling it “erroneous”).
The Articles of Organization document also shows that the Gabrielle D. Giffords Exempt Trust is a member of the Giffords Management Group.
The taxpayers of Tucson footed the bill to clean up the 3.3-acre property at the same time they were paying nearly a million dollars to rent the property. Typically the property owner, in this case Giffords Management Group, would have cleaned up the property first, at its own expense.
The property absolutely had serious environmental concerns, as attested to by the Phase I Environmental Site Assessment. These environmental concerns were addressed and cleaned up by the City and the EPA before the final environmental assessment which, as expected, would show no environmental contamination because it had already been cleaned up!
Public records document the presence of two leaking underground storage tanks on the property. This record is available for all to see at the ADEQ web site at this URL: http://www.azdeq.gov/databases/lustsearch.html (Type in facility ID # 0-009809 and Leak ID # 5290.01 and hit search). This record confirms the presence of the storage tanks on the property and confirms they were cleaned up. In addition, the ADEQ has a file 600 pages thick detailing all the work that had to be done on the property.
The Daily Star also chose to omit in its article findings of the Phase I Environmental Assessment which detailed additional environmental concerns including heavily oil-contaminated soil and asphalt, asbestos, and three sub-surface hydraulic lift reservoirs. Once again, the City of Tucson and the EPA saved the day by cleaning up the site.
Once the demolition of all structures on the site was completed, a final environmental study verified there was no longer any contamination at that time. For the Daily Star to report there was never contamination on the property is at best incorrect and misleading.
Since the Arizona Daily Star has been unable or unwilling to review the facts of this case in an unbiased manner, here is a summary of what public records document. There was environmental contamination on acreage owned by the Giffords Management Group (in part). Gabrielle Giffords was then and is now part of the shell corporation that is party to this deal. The taxpayers paid a million dollars to rent property that wasn’t environmentally safe yet, per federal guidelines. The property was leased as part of the city’s plans to develop Rio Nuevo and yet the lot is not even part of Rio Nuevo. The deal was signed in 2000 and yet six years later continues to sit vacant. Gabrielle Giffords’ shell corporation continues to collect the rent paid for by taxpayers who are getting no value whatsoever in return for their investment.
Gabrielle Giffords has boasted she came home to Arizona to run the family business and now she’s running from it. As the head of the company, it’s only logical to assume she knew about the land-lease deal and knew there were environmental problems on the property. She also had to be aware the taxpayers were going to foot the bill for the clean-up.
Anyone running for office should expect and even welcome public scrutiny. Taxpayers have the right to know how their tax dollars are spent. Gabrielle Giffords simply cannot have it both ways. She can’t tell the taxpayers she’s on their side and then want to keep us in the dark about how our tax-dollars are being spent when she is benefiting.
More details and documentation about Giffords' questionable property deal is available at www.giffordssweetdeal.com.