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Football: Legality of free Fiesta Bowl tickets questioned

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By Associated Press

PHOENIX (AP) — An Arizona Senate Ethics Committee review found some lawmakers may have violated state law by improperly accepting free football game tickets from the Fiesta Bowl, Chairman Ron Gould said Thursday.
However, Gould told The Associated Press that he is temporarily refraining from taking further action because he doesn’t want to taint a criminal investigation being conducted by Maricopa County prosecutors.
In a related development, Senate President Russell Pearce released copies of canceled checks and other documents that he said show a “clear pattern of compliance” with state laws restricting acceptance of gifts and of making reimbursements to the Fiesta Bowl for game tickets.
Pearce released the material one day after the bowl was fined $1 million by a bowl consortium for apparent illegal campaign contributions and inappropriate spending.
The Bowl Championship Series presidential oversight committee, which made the decision Wednesday, also attached several other conditions as it let the Fiesta Bowl remain part of the system for deciding college football’s national champion. They included steps to strengthen the Fiesta Bowl’s board along with greater supervision of executives to make sure the problems are not repeated, according to materials obtained by The Associated Press.
Gould launched his committee’s staff review of lawmaker’s financial disclosure reports and other documents after the Fiesta Bowl released an internal report in March.
The report detailed a wide array of improper spending by bowl officials, questionable gifts to curry favor from public officials and illegal reimbursement of some bowl personnel for campaign contributions to politicians.
The Fiesta Bowl report detailed about $45,000 in reimbursements to employees for political donations, an apparent violation of federal and state laws. It also revealed lavish and inappropriate spending, such as $33,000 for a Pebble Beach, Calif., birthday bash for then-CEO John Junker, $13,000 for the wedding and honeymoon of an aide, and a $1,200 strip club tab for Junker and two others.