Rep. Ruben Gallego (D., Ariz.) has criticized his potential Senate opponent Kyrsten Sinema (I., Ariz.) over her ties to "deep-pocketed lobbyists." The progressive Democrat is literally in bed with one.
Gallego's wife, Sydney Barron, is director of government advocacy at the National Association of Realtors, a trade group for realtors and landlords that spends more on lobbying than any other group in Washington, D.C. Barron describes herself as a Democratic lobbyist whose portfolio includes "targeting House Democrats" on the issues of "fair and affordable housing, housing finance reform," and student debt relief. The National Association of Realtors has lobbied in favor of student debt relief, seemingly because it would free up money to pay for rent or real estate purchases. Like most Democrats, Gallego supports President Joe Biden's proposal to wipe out hundreds of millions of dollars in student debt.
Gallego's intimate ties to a top lobbyist for K Street's biggest spender could undercut his campaign to provide a progressive alternative to Sinema. Gallego accused Sinema in a fundraising email last month of choosing "to side with the lobbyists and special interests" over Arizonans. In a text message to supporters, Gallego took aim at the "deep-pocketed lobbyists funding [Sinema's] campaign," according to Fox News.
Gallego, who recently appointed a convicted felon to advise his campaign, has received support from other K Street lobbyists. He is slated to attend a fundraiser hosted by Democratic lobbyists Matt and Patrick Gorman later this month, Fox News reported.
In April 2021, Gallego took part in an all-expenses paid junket to Qatar, an oil-rich Gulf nation known for sponsoring Islamic terrorist organizations. The U.S.-Qatar Business Council, which lobbies for closer U.S.-Qatari ties, paid roughly $22,000 for Gallego and Barron's flights, lodging, and meals during the trip, according to a disclosure Gallego filed with the House Ethics Committee. The trip gained notoriety after Gallego was photographed with Rep. Eric Swalwell (D., Calif.) riding topless on camels in the Qatari desert.
Gallego went on a trip in July 2021 on the National Association of Realtors's dime. According to Gallego's financial disclosure, the trade group paid for Gallego's food and lodging at The Greenbrier, a West Virginia resort that bills itself as "a favorite destination of royalty, celebrities, and business leaders." The nature of the trip is unclear, though it occurred a month after he and Barron tied the knot.
Gallego has also received campaign donations from the National Association of Realtors, other lobbyists, and corporate PACs, undercutting his criticism of Sinema for taking money from the same kinds of groups. He criticized Sinema in an email this month for taking $110,000 from corporate PACs. The National Association of Realtors has given $32,000 to Gallego's campaigns since 2014. The lobbying firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck has contributed $4,500 since 2019. The political action committees for companies such as Amazon, CVS Health, UBS, Raytheon, and accounting giant KPMG have given tens of thousands of dollars to Gallego over the years, according to his campaign disclosures.
Gallego's campaign did not respond to a request for comment.