The head of the Mesa Chamber of Commerce objects to his words being used in a campaign mailer sent out by Gilbert Mayor Steve Berman. In an October 2006 Tribune story, Mesa chamber CEO and President Charles Deaton said of a local group, Valley Business Owners (and Concerned Citizens): "I would call it an extremist group (that) works the most extreme issues."
Deaton acknowledged Friday he made the statement, but said it only applied to the VBO group, a Mesa-based group that has successfully fought several local efforts, including a proposed stadium for the Arizona Cardinals and a proposed city property tax.
But in the direct mailer sent out by Berman's campaign committee, the Gilbert mayor claims an ongoing recall effort against him is associated with the VBO group. But according to paperwork filed with the Gilbert town clerk, another political committee, End Corruption in Gilbert, is behind the recall effort, not the VBO.
"As an organization, I don't think (the VBO) did anything," Deaton said. "And that's the reason I was a little miffed that (Berman) put that in there. I don't want people to think that either the chamber or I would be involved in a Gilbert issue anyway."
Berman said, "That quote was something that my campaign manager got out of the newspaper. Charlie said it."
The connection between VBO and the recall committee is Gilbert resident Fred Phillis, who heads the effort to oust the mayor. Phillis also is a vocal member of the VBO.
States the flier: "The chairman of the (recall) group is a man named Fred Phillis. Mr. Phillis, and his front group, the so-called Valley Business Owners, has been active over the last several years in pushing referendums in Mesa to undermine and oppose new economic development efforts...."
VBO President David Molina denied any connection between his group and the recall committee.