Public Interest in His Divorce Records Is ‘Minimal,’ Senate Candidate Ruben Gallego Argues

Arizona Senate candidate’s lawyers fight a Free Beacon motion to unseal records related to 2016 divorce in which Gallego left 9-months pregnant wife

Rep. Rubén Gallego (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
February 22, 2024

Rep. Ruben Gallego (D., Ariz.) says he has nothing to hide about the behavior that led him to divorce his wife, then nine months pregnant, amid a period of what he has described as PTSD-induced "outbursts." But the Arizona Senate candidate is fighting to keep his divorce records sealed, claiming the public interest in them is "minimal" and that privacy and security concerns "override" the public’s need to know the details surrounding the circumstances of his 2016 divorce.

In a court filing last week, lawyers for Gallego—who is running to unseat Independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) in one of the most closely watched Senate races in the country—and his ex-wife, Phoenix mayor Kate Gallego, asked the superior court in Yavapai County to reject the Washington Free Beacon’s motion to unseal their divorce proceedings. Gallego’s lawyers stated plainly that the information under seal "does not include allegations of abuse or misconduct," though they conceded in a footnote they have not actually been able to see all of the divorce records in question.

Instead, Gallego’s legal team said the documents contain "intensely personal and detailed agreements" related to custody and care issues for their son, including how he is to be disciplined and what extracurricular activities he will participate in.

The Free Beacon has argued that Gallego is a prominent public figure who has discussed his divorce on the campaign trail: Gallego has suggested in media interviews that PTSD he experienced after the Iraq war was a factor in his separation, telling the news media that trauma from the war made him prone to "extreme outbursts" and excessive drinking.

Attorneys for the Gallegos lashed out at the Free Beacon, arguing that it seeks to "commandeer the courts" in order to "disparage Rep. Gallego’s politics." They cite the Free Beacon’s slogan, "Covering the enemies of freedom the way the mainstream media won’t," to support their argument.

The Free Beacon has reported on Gallego, including his second wife’s job as a real estate lobbyist, his advice to a fellow Marine to "shut the fuck up" and get the coronavirus vaccine, and his recent endorsement from a left-wing activist group that wants to defund police.

"Any interest that Free Beacon has in the information is minimal, given its highly personal nature unrelated to Rep. Gallego and Mayor Gallego’s roles as elected officials," they said.

It is not unheard of for news organizations to seek the release of divorce records for public figures. Last month, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and more than a dozen other news outlets successfully sued to unseal divorce records for Nathan Wade, the special prosecutor who worked for Fulton County district attorney Fani Willis in her investigation of Donald Trump. In 2018, the Minnesota Star-Tribune sued to release then-Rep. Keith Ellison’s divorce records after an ex-girlfriend accused him of physical abuse.