From Jack Ryan to Ruben Gallego

In the 2004 Illinois Senate race that launched Barack Obama on the path to political prosperity, only Republican candidate Jack Ryan stood in his way. Ryan appeared to be a formidable candidate. George Will wrote a memorable column — I remember it, anyway — asking whether Ryan was “too good to be true.” He thought Ryan was an impressive and formidable candidate.

Once Ryan secured the Republican nomination to oppose Obama in the Senate race, the unraveling began with the disclosure of sealed custody documents from Ryan’s California divorce file. It turned out that Ryan’s ex-wife, TV actress Jeri Ryan, had accused him of taking her to sex clubs in New York and Paris, where he tried to coerce her into having sex with him in front of strangers.

The allegations dated to four years earlier, when the Ryans were engaged in a bitter child custody battle following their divorce. The Tribune successfully sought release of the records over the opposition of the Ryans, who had fought disclosure because they said it could harm their son. Following the release of the custody records, the Tribune headline deemed the “Ryan file a bombshell.” Ryan promptly exited the political stage.

Ruben Gallego is the Democratic candidate for Senate in Arizona. He appears to be leading Republican candidate Kari Lake. Gallego, however, has a skeleton or two in his divorce file that he is struggling to keep in the closet. Numerous red flags suggest as much.

Gallego filed for divorce in Yavapai County, 100 miles from his home in Maricopa County, and asserted in his filings that he and his wife “were and are high-profile politicians in Maricopa County.” It is unclear why Gallego filed in Yavapai County, given that Arizona law stipulates that divorce filings “shall be brought in the county in which a petitioner is residing at the time the action is filed.” Gallego also managed to conceal the case’s existence on the court docket. Even that was sealed.

One more thing. Gallego sought the divorce in 2016 when his wife — Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego — was nine months pregnant with their son. The ripeness is all.

Like the Chicago Tribune in 2004, the Washington Free Beacon has brought a lawsuit to unseal the divorce file. Observing the irregularities on the face of the 2017 proceedings, Washington Free Beacon editor Eliana Johnson (my daughter) has reasonably commented that the file has been accorded treatment not “afforded to the average Arizona citizen.” Indeed, the irregularities are inconsistent with Arizona law.

Yavapai County Superior Court judge John Napper ruled in late March that he saw no justification for the sealing of the file and did not believe much, if any, of it should remain private. He subsequently ordered Gallego to propose specific redactions to the file — and Gallego has proposed hundreds of such redactions.

This past Friday Judge Napper ordered Gallego to specify the basis for his proposed redactions. Eliana now reports regarding the proposed redactions: “Some span paragraphs, while others include publicly available information such as where Gallego’s ex-wife, Phoenix mayor Kate Gallego, went to high school, and the name of their son, with whom Gallego has recently appeared on the campaign trail.”

One can only infer that the file reflects poorly on Gallego. Among the arguments advanced by Gallego’s attorneys is the proposition that the Free Beacon is a “partisan publication” and seeks the documents for “nakedly partisan” uses. It’s an argument that, in addition to being false, implicitly concedes the newsworthiness of the divorce file. It would have no partisan use if voters might not find it of interest.

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