Rubén Gallego Earned $20K Renting His Arizona Home While Living in a Taxpayer-Funded DC Townhouse

Rep. Ruben Gallego (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
December 13, 2023

Rep. Rubén Gallego (D., Ariz.) and his real estate lobbyist wife made $20,000 last year renting out their home in Phoenix while staying in Washington, D.C. The next year, they took advantage of a taxpayer-funded program to defray the cost of their $940,000 Capitol Hill townhouse.

Gallego took $7,000 in the first half of 2023 from a congressional program that provides taxpayer funds to House lawmakers to help pay their rent in Washington, D.C. The subsidies cannot be put towards mortgages, but a campaign spokesman told the Washington Free Beacon that Gallego used funds from the program to pay a $4,250 property tax bill and cover the cost of utilities at his Capitol Hill home.

As Gallego stayed at his taxpayer-funded home, which boasts "elegant charm and luxurious comforts," he rented out the Arizona home he shares with his wife, National Association of Realtors lobbyist Sydney Barron, using Vrbo, a spokeswoman for his campaign said. The rental income totaled just under $20,000 in 2022, records show.

Gallego’s real estate maneuvers could prove a thorn in his side as he fights to unseat Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I., Ariz.). Gallego frequently accuses his political opponents of protecting tax loopholes for wealthy Americans and special interest groups. The congressman’s use of taxpayer funds to lower his own tax bill could open him to charges of hypocrisy, should he continue to deploy such rhetoric against Sinema.

As could Gallego’s shrewd navigation of the industry for which his wife lobbies. Barron helps her employer—one of the largest lobbying organizations in the country—target House Democrats such as her husband to pass legislation on "fair and affordable housing, housing finance reform," and student debt relief, the Free Beacon reported.

Gallego’s conflicting residency claims could also open him up to lines of attack. He claimed his Washington, D.C., property as his primary residence to secure a taxpayer-subsidized Veterans Affairs home loan in August 2022. But Gallego also claimed to reside primarily in Phoenix, Politico reported in June, which let him take advantage of an Arizona rebate program designed to lower tax burdens for state residents.

"Former D.C. resident Ruben Gallego spent most of last year living outside the state he claims to represent and ripping off taxpayers to fund his second home," said National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesman Tate Mitchell. "It’s clear he can’t be trusted to fight for Arizonans in the Senate."

Gallego’s campaign spokeswoman insisted that the Democrat only ever had one primary residence in Phoenix and that the loan officers were fully aware of his residency situation when they approved the note for his Washington, D.C., home in 2022. Maricopa County Assessor's Office spokeswoman Devero Bogart confirmed the rentals at his Phoenix home in 2022 did not disqualify Gallego from the Arizona homeowners rebate program. He sold his Washington, D.C., property for a $55,000 profit in October.

Gallego wasn’t the only lawmaker to take advantage of the congressional housing stipend. At least 113 Democrats and 104 Republicans have accepted taxpayer funds in 2023 to pay for their Washington, D.C., living expenses, the Free Beacon reported.

A Gallego spokeswoman pointed to that fact to deny any "impropriety" on the representative's part. It is unclear if any other lawmakers took funds from the program to pay down their property taxes.

Update, Dec. 13, 12:54 p.m.: This piece has been updated to clarify remarks from a Gallego campaign spokeswoman.