Arizona Politicians Cleared of Fiesta Bowl wrongdoing

Maricopa County (Ariz.) prosecutors were investigating claims that Arizona politicians violated state lobbying gift laws by accepting tickets to College Football’s Bowl Championship Series Fiesta Bowl.  County Attorney Bill Montgomery reported just before Christmas that he had found that the evidence presented was not enough to determine that the law had been broken.

Montgomery blamed the state’s lobbying ethics laws, saying, “Despite the public’s legitimate expectations that current laws ensure a reasonable degree of open and honest government, Arizona’s statutes governing receipt of gifts and reporting requirements fall short of meeting those expectations.”

State Sen. Russell Pearce allegedly received tickets and travel totaling over $40,000, and was voted out of office during a recall election in November Pokies, in part due to his connection to the Fiesta Bowl scandal.  Pearce was also a staunch Montgomery supporter.

Also implicated in the investigation was Gov. Jan Brewer, whose top political strategists lobbied on behalf of the Fiesta Bowl for six years, beginning in 2005. Brewer was not, however, a subject of investigation.

Montgomery put the onus on legislators to hold public officials accountable, saying via emailed media statement, “I trust that members of the legislature, sharing my concern for upholding the integrity of our respective offices, will address these recommendations in an appropriate manner.”

A federal grand jury is also investigating charges related to Fiesta Bowl impropriety, though no charges have been brought against Arizona state politicians.

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