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Phoenix leaders eye action against Robert Sarver following scathing review of Suns owner

Top elected officials in Phoenix have asked city staff to investigate if they have power to penalize Phoenix Suns and Mercury owner Robert Sarver.

He’s been suspended and fined by the NBA after a review found that he repeatedly used a racist slur, treated women unequally and bullied team staff.

Phoenix owns the downtown arena which the Suns and Mercury call home.

The city recently spent $150 million to renovate the venue. And Phoenix is paying $2 million a year to help maintain it.

Now the mayor and four City Council members say they’re appalled by the actions detailed in a newly released investigation into Sarver and the Suns’ overall workplace culture.

The group statement calls it unacceptable for team leadership to be involved with what they call the despicable action outlined in the report.

But the quintet stopped short of demanding that Sarver sell the Suns, which some observers have criticized the NBA for not doing.

Within hours of the statement by top Phoenix officials came an open letter to Suns employees and players from Jahm Najafi, the team's vice chairman. Najafi called Thursday for Sarver to resign, saying there should be “zero tolerance” for lewd, misogynistic and racist conduct in any workplace.

“I cannot in good judgment sit back and allow our children and future generations of fans think that this behavior is tolerated because of wealth and privilege,” Najafi wrote in a letter released through a public-relations firm. “Therefore, in accordance with my commitment to helping eradicate any form of racism, sexism and bias, as Vice Chairman of the Phoenix Suns, I am calling for the resignation of Robert Sarver.”

Najafi has been critical of Sarver throughout this saga. Najafi is one of three vice chairmen for the Suns, with several other minority investors also part of the ownership group.

Associated Press contributed to the report.

Matthew Casey has won Edward R. Murrow awards for hard news and sports reporting since he joined KJZZ as a senior field correspondent in 2015.