City Attorney: Mayor can't sue on behalf of the city

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PHOENIX – Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon has vowed to file a lawsuit against the new immigration law but on Monday the Phoenix city attorney said Gordon does not have the power to do it on his own.

Last Tuesday Mayor Gordon planned to file a lawsuit against the state of Arizona to stop the new immigration law, but Gordon didn't move forward when it appeared that he didn't have enough City Council votes. Gordon then said he would sue using his own funds rather than tax payers dollars.

On Monday the city attorney filed a report with the city clerk saying the mayor cannot do that.

City Attorney Gary Verburg was asked by Councilman Bill Gates to look into the issue and found in a six-page report that the mayor, who has been very vocal in derailing the new immigration law, cannot sue the state on behalf of the city.

Sal DiCiccio, with the Phoenix city council, tells 3TV, “He can file as an individual, but he cannot file as the Mayor of the City of Phoenix.”

Councilman DiCiccio says he would have voted against filing the suit if the mayor did not pull it off of the agenda last Tuesday.

DiCiccio tells 3TV the suit would have cost tax payers tens of thousands of dollars. “If the city attorney said that the mayor could file a lawsuit at any time on any issue, then you'd be seeing a mayor who'd be filing on any issue, dragging the tax payers through these court cases and at the end of the day it would be a drain on the taxpayer.”

City government follows its own Constitution, often referred to as a charter. In it City Attorney Verburg found that without council approval it, "does not grant authority to the mayor to sue on behalf of the city on his own."

Mayor Gordon was in Washington, D.C. Monday trying to create a few allies in the United States Congress.

He also took a moment to talk about this new law on CNN saying, “The system is broken and we're only helping those that are creating harm for our country in terms of this illegal immigration.”

In response to Monday's findings, Mayor Gordon says in a written statement, “I will do everything in my power, both in my capacity as mayor and individually, to prevent this onerous legislation."

3TV spoke to one of the mayor's staff a short time ago and e says the mayor still plans on moving forward with a lawsuit, which will most likely be a joint lawsuit with other people.

Read the report filed by the city attorney and the mayor's response to that report.