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Fiesta Bowl Accused with Getting Reimbursed for Political Contributions

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Today The Arizona Republic broke the story that said Fiesta Bowl employees were encouraged to donate specific candidates and then were later reimbursed for their contribution. Just a little illegal there if this were true.  The contributions were quite small with the total said to be $38,000 over ten years by 14 employees, and one-third of this going to Arizona Senator Jon McCain's failed 2008 presidential bid.

Here is an expert from The Arizona Republic:

Over the past decade as the Fiesta Bowl worked to maintain its elite position as one of the top postseason college-football games, employees made contributions to politicians friendly to the bowl, including some donations that may violate campaign-finance laws.

More than $38,000 in campaign contributions have been made since 2000 by 14 Fiesta Bowl employees.

Those contributions come on top of the $4 million the Fiesta Bowl spent during the same period on lobbyists, trips, dinners and golf retreats to build relationships with athletic officials who control the Bowl Championship Series and to garner support from politicians.

The amount of money is not a lot but the consequences could be huge, especially with the boys on Capitol Hill looking to make make the BCS illegal.

T1997fiestafull_mediumhis just gives Joe Barton, Orrin Hatch, and others more ammunition to say that the BCS is not a true national championship.  Part of the reason that these alleged payments and then reimbursement is to keep the Fiesta Bowl in the BCS.  The Cotton Bowl is vying for a BCS bowl bid and with the game moving to Jerry World and combo that with the Fiesta being the youngest of the major bowls; no one should be surprised that these bowls games are doing all they can to keep these cash cows in hand.

Just look at the approximate four million dollar the bowl spent over the past decade from dinners, flights, and luxury vacation packages.  This seems a lot like what lobbyists do for Congress with all the free stuff to try to influence their agenda.  Senator Russell Pearce puts it best:

"Every four years we run the risk of losing the (BCS) championship game, and I do everything I can to keep the Fiesta Bowl viable. ... It means millions of dollars for the state."

CEO of the Fiesta Bowl John Junker denies ever orchestrating or reimbursing any campaign donations. However any type of corruption -- no matter how minor -- just adds more ammunition for the BCS' haters, who already accuse the them of behaving in anti-trust violations, misleading testimony in front of Congress.  

The formerly bullet proof armor of the BCS is getting chipped down little by little, and every bit helps.