Republican Kari Lake released a statement Monday, bashing Arizona Representative Ruben Gallego (D-AZ-03) after a report surfaced that he was involved in creating a bank aimed at helping the Hispanic community, which ultimately fell through and took money from some Latinos.
“These troubling revelations should be concerning to every single voter in Arizona. Ruben is just another corrupt politician looking to line his own pockets at the expense of everyday Arizonans. Despite being a Bernie-worshiping socialist, Ruben will always put his own financial interests first. Arizona deserves better than a craven man willing to sell out his constituents at a moment’s notice for an easy buck. I believe Arizonans are ready for a new generation of citizen leaders who are ready to work for the people,” Lake said in an email to the press.
The article, which spurred Lake’s comment, came from Arizona Republic reporter Ronald Hansen and detailed a business venture Gallego became involved with before starting his career as an Arizona Congressman. Between 2011 and 2014, Gallego served in the Arizona House of Representatives, and during this time, he met with a Phoenix resident named Joseph Carrillo.
Carrillo wanted to do more for the undocumented immigrants’ community and pitched the idea of a bank that would work closely with these people. The idea was to help “underbanked” people get standard loans they would not qualify for otherwise. Gallego (pictured above, left) liked the idea. With the help of local political consultant Carlos Sierra, the group found powerful allies with banking experience to help their cause, including former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer and Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
At that time, Carrillo operated a company called Partisan Alliance Corp., which offered services to the undocumented immigrant community, such as English lessons, obtaining U.S. citizenship, and getting a GED. Despite its intentions, the company financially struggled, and Carrillo had to take money from investors to keep the company afloat.
Gallego worked for Partisan Alliance in 2013 as the communications director, earning him $27,000 until 2014. The group started working on making the bank a reality; however, Carrillo was reportedly stubborn in how he wanted the project to go down, which led to potential partners walking away, including Gallego. A statement from Gallego’s campaign emailed to The Arizona Sun Times confirmed that “leadership struggles” were the reason he left the project and Partisan Alliance.
Moreover, Carrillo and Partisan Alliance spiraled downward hard after this, and in 2015, he owed $70,000 in unpaid office space rent to a landlord. This debt brought legal action against the company, and things only worsened. In 2016, Carrillo raised $83,000 from at least six Latino investors to cover the Partisan Alliance’s expenses; two of these had been students of the company’s language classes. The investors were told that their money would be returned, but the company’s debt continued to grow.
In 2018, Partisan Alliance stopped submitting annual reports, and the Arizona Corporation Commission dissolved it in 2021. The report ended by saying as of 2019, the Latino investors had not received their returns, and Carrillo is an insurance agent today working to repay his debts.
Gallego has started campaigning to take the Senate seat occupied by Kyrsten Sinema (I). Lake is also reportedly entertaining the idea of a Senate run.
Alex Nicoll, a spokesperson for Lake, told The Sun Times that Lake “will do whatever it takes” to return “corrupt politicians like Ruben Gallego” to the private sector “even if that means stepping up to run against him herself.”
A recent poll found that a three-way race between Lake, Sinema, and Gallego may end in a Republican victory, as an Independent candidate would likely play spoiler for Democrats.
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Neil Jones is a reporter for The Arizona Sun Times and The Star News Network. Follow Neil on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Kari Lake” by The Kari Lake. Photo “Ruben Gallego” by Rep. Ruben Gallego. Background Photo “United States Capitol Building” by Wars. CC BY-SA 3.0.