Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery Concludes Fiesta Bowl Probe, Issues Recommendations


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 21, 2011
CONTACT: Jerry Cobb

PHOENIX, AZ (December 21, 2011) – Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery announced the conclusion of an 8-month criminal investigation into whether public officials illegally accepted or failed to report gifts from members of the Fiesta Bowl organization and its representatives. While the investigation did not find evidence leading to criminal liability for those investigated, it did identify areas where Arizona law does not meet legitimate public expectations for transparency in disclosure of the receipt of gifts.

“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,” Montgomery said. “A combination of inconsistent laws, vague reporting requirements, and a ‘knowing’ standard of conduct created significant hurdles for our investigation in establishing the required mental state to prove criminal liability,” he added.

As a consequence of the difficulties encountered in conducting the investigation, the County Attorney will make the following recommendations to both houses in the State Legislature:

  • Create a single reference point in law for lobbyists and legislators that clarifies what, if any, types of gifts are permissible, and establishes consistent definitions of gifts and items that require disclosure.
  • Establish an outright ban on gifts, or a minimum value threshold above which reporting and disclosure is mandatory for anything received above the set value (e.g. $25).
  • Establish an increased frequency of reporting, no less than quarterly, to eliminate record-keeping, memory and accuracy issues that can arise with annual reporting requirements. A web-based reporting system is also recommended to facilitate the public’s ability to review officials’ disclosures.
  • Adjust penalties for violations of reporting requirements, making “knowing and intentional” violations a felony offense instead of a misdemeanor.
  • Establish a “reckless” standard that carries misdemeanor or civil penalties that are significant enough to encourage accurate and timely reporting.
  • Remove legislative staff attorneys from the role of providing campaign finance disclosure recommendations, training and advice in order to preclude any claim of attorney-client privilege on these matters.
  • Amend lobbying disclosure forms to include a certification of having read the instructions, as required on campaign finance disclosure statements. Add an expenditure reporting category for Principals/Public Bodies to the Principal/Public Body Annual Report of Lobbying Expenditures.

“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,” Montgomery said.

The County Attorney’s Office began its investigation in April 2011, after receiving the case from the Arizona Attorney General’s Office which had declared a conflict of interest in the matter. Over the course of the investigation, a team of experienced prosecutors and investigators from the County Attorney’s Office reviewed thousands of pages of documents and conducted interviews with multiple legislators, lobbyists and Fiesta Bowl employees. The investigation looked at 28 legislators and 3 non-legislator elected office holders. The Attorney General also declared a conflict on two Fiesta Bowl-related cases involving three lobbyists, which also became part of the County Attorney’s investigation.

Legislators investigated:

  • Paula Aboud
  • Chad Campbell
  • Linda Lopez
  • Russell Pearce
  • Kirk Adams
  • Rich Crandall
  • David Lujan
  • Gary Pierce
  • Linda Aguirre
  • Sam Crump
  • Lucy Mason
  • Michelle Reagan
  • Ken Bennett
  • Adam Driggs
  • John McComish
  • Pete Rios
  • Robert Blendu
  • Steve Gallardo
  • Robert Meza
  • Andrew Tobin
  • David Bradley
  • Laurin Hendrix
  • John Nelson
  • Steve Tully
  • Bob Burns
  • John Kavanagh
  • Ward Nichols
  • Thayer Verschoor

Non-legislator elected officials investigated:

  • Joe Arpaio
  • Ben Arrendondo
  • Elaine Scruggs

Lobbyists investigated:

  • Charles Coughlin and Doug Cole as part of the lobbying firm, “HighGround”
  • Kevin Demenna

###


Comments

  1. I always thought the lobbyists who wrote the lobbying laws (like all the other laws) made these deliberately vague as to be unenforceable. Now we see the proof.

    We’ve already got two year terms, term limits, financial disclosures, campaign finance rules, campaign donation limits, a ban on corporate money to candidates, an ethics committee, open meetings laws, televised committee hearings, public testimony, executive branch veto power, judicial review, two separate chambers, the recall process, the impeachment process, a ban on former legislators lobbying for one year, resign to run laws, $24k salaries, a ban on fundraising during the session, lobbying reporting requirements, and the Arizona Constitution itself…all designed to prevent legislators from becoming corrupt.

    And now we’re going to try even harder by…limiting gifts to less than $25?

    • Walmart seems to be able to handle a ban on any gift to any of their employees pretty well.
      So do a lot of other companies.

      Certainly, if Walmart can do it, our little old Legislature can handle it as well?

      • “Amend lobbying disclosure forms to include a certification of having read the instructions, as required on campaign finance disclosure statements.”

        We don’t want more laws, we want less, you know KISS – keep it simple stupid. Define stupid: more laws; too many laws causing confusion; or laws not being enforced.

  2. when in doubt vote them out!

  3. Guess Montgomery might have saved the taxpayers a few million in legal bills. If there had been criminal charges, bet there would have been lawsuits galore. So, conclusion, no laws broken. Or at least laws they understood. Better make them clearer next time.

    I say even if no laws were broken, what about ethics? Oh, forgot, those ethics investigations bring on lawsuits, too. Bundgaard has shown his colleagues how to fight any attempt to bring a lawmaker to accountability. If what he’s accused of doesn’t violate ethics rules, what does?

    Gotta’ thank Kimberly Yee (R) Phoenix for introducing a bill today tightening up financial disclosure laws, and making those reports readily available to the public. That’s quick action, girl!

  4. I think the problem is a lack of testicular fortitude on the part of Bill Montgomery. He is a coward who doesn’t want to bring any charges, especially against fellow Republicans. I am going to be working hard to get an honest district attorney elected in Maricopa County, next time around. Bill Montgomery has shown us his true color — the color of cowardice and incompetence.

    And, I note that he hasn’t started too many employer sanctions prosecutions under the employer sanctions law. I am expecting the district attorney to file at least two a day in Maricopa county alone — if you want to make a dent in illegal immigration, you have to prosecute employers, something that Bill Montgomery either doesn’t want to do or is afraid of doing.

    And, let’s make sure that the people that accepted freebies from the fiesta bowl never hold an elected office again. Punishment should be swift and severe, in order for it to be a deterrent to others who are morally weak, and might succumb to temptation.

    • On employer sanctions, it has been a long road. Enacted in 2007, it took until May of this year to wade through profiteering business (Chamber of Commerce) and ethnic-based lawsuits before ending at the SCOTUS. Under the law, a first offense is an automatic 10-day suspension of business licenses, likely not requiring the country attorney’s involvement. Then one would have to ask if any business in Arizona has received a 2nd violation (permanent loss of licenses) and even then, would that require any action by MCAO? The law is what it is, a deterrant, and other than single violations may have accomplished what it was supposed to. Although it is a state law, I’ve never heard of any agency enforcing it except MSCO. Maybe that’s the problem.

      • One would need to ask if any business in Arizona has received a FIRST one, zoo.
        I believe you can count them on 1 finger.

        The law is a sham and written with so many loopholes that business laugh at it. It’s no deterrent, with the right wing Glorious Leader Arpaio, still going around with his sweeps, pulling the 2 or 3 dishwashers out but patting the employer/managers on the back commiserating with them.

        As far as MCSO enforcing it…when was the last time (or the first time, for that matter), we saw a business owner or business manager stuffed into an MCSO van wearing handcuffs and actually charged under EmployeR Sanctions?

        That’s not MAYBE the problem, that IS the problem.

        • There have been many raids under the law reported in the media on a variety of businesses including restaurant chains, manufacturers, and service companies. As I said, the penalty for the first offense is a 10-day suspension of business licenses. Is there another provision in the law that says owners will be arrested, booked, and jailed?

          • You skipped right past the first question zoo.

            I’ll repeat: “One would need to ask if any business in Arizona has received a FIRST one, zoo.”

            What business has had their license suspended due to employer sanctions?

            I can wait.

            • I believe that Danny’s Subway and Waterworld are in that process now. Others, such as Chuy’s Mesquite Broiler had to shut down temporarily on their own accord because they lacked manpower; another oriental food chain (name escapes me) was busy the next day after getting popped hiring citizens and legal residents. I concede the process is cumbersome. But then, how many untold businesses have been deterred from hiring illegal aliens? You won’t find these stories in the media.

              Now back to the question you skipped. Are the arrests of owners, handcuffs, and night sticks that you’re demanding a provision of the law? I understand your assignment from NT is to trash Arpaio across the web, but his office has to work with the law that was handed to him.

              • Waterworld.

                That’s it. By MCSO.

                Oh, and it just so happened that the place was already closing.

                Chuy’s was closed “due to lack of manpower”. Sure they were.

                Was it because of anything MCSO did or had to do with Employer Sanctions?
                Given that it was the Feds and IRS that popped Chuy’s, care to rethink that?

                How many were deterred?
                Can’t say, but I can say it didn’t deter one of the closest amigos of Herr Pearce; Matt Tolman. Last I checked he had some issues with at least one illegal immigrant he’d employed – knowingly – for several years. It sure hasn’t slowed Joe “I don’t recall” Arpaio down from his sweeps has it?

                The law was intended to go after employers. Instead Thomas and Arpaio twisted it to the employees (note, that I don’t have a bit of a problem with an illegal immigrant being caught and deported). Yet, they weren’t able to twist it to go after the employers and live up the name of EMPLOYER Sanctions. I wonder if it was written by Fuhrer Pearce purposefully so? Wouldn’t want to upset your donors, would we?

              • Oh, so there was one afterall; I’ll bet you knew all along you crafty devil. But what about employer arrests, handcuffs, and night sticks oh my! You made the big demand (above) and I say it again, where is that written into the statute?

                So now you’re saying that illegal workers picked up under the Legal Workers Act should be turned lose and given a gift certificate to La Canceria Tire Shop?

                I must say you’re right in lockstep with the Napolitaco mentality. She thought that
                all invaders snatched up under Human Smuggling would be handed a pair of shoeskates too. Surprise! I can STILL hear her whining after Pearce and Thomas (a stunning plan) got her to sign off on the law and popped their first drop house and prosecuted ALL the inhabitants. Napolitaco’s whining then turned to screaming, but then being what she was (?????), she never could “accessorize.”

                But what the hell, it’s Christmas so enjoy your homecoming with this New Times article on Thomas closing the Subway – the first popped under the Legal Workers Act. I’m sure it’s fascinating; tell’em back home I said “hey!”

                http://blogs.phoenixnewtimes.com/valleyfever/2010/03/employer-sanctions_law_claims.php

              • Ah, zoo….are you Wanumba as well?

                “So now you’re saying that illegal workers picked up under the Legal Workers Act should be turned lose and given a gift certificate to La Canceria Tire Shop?”

                “…note, that I don’t have a bit of a problem with an illegal immigrant being caught and deported.”

                No, my reading challenged friend, not what I said.

                Ah, so he did get Subway…I stand corrected on that.
                Yet, my statement of only 1 business so far stands correct, as the article you linked so clearly notes.

                Yep, I’d call that law a STUNNING SUCCESS in Sanctioning Employers….

              • Yes, I missed your disclaimer (secret editing link?). But I believe your reading comprehension is off a little also. My “stunning success” referred to the hoodwinking of Jamit “I vetoed 14 illegal immigration bills” Napolitaco into signing the bill. As a licensed shysterette, she should have realized the invadees would get popped too as, like any crime, an accessory to. Perhaps she was distracted trying to establish her Merry Muchachos all day (kindergarten) baby sitting service.

        • The Sheriff’s Office doesn’t prosecute.
          If the Prosecutor’s Office won’t do that job, then all law enforcement is going to react to that reality, not to anything else.

          Why in all these cries and complaints, the behavior of Prosecutor’s Office is NEVER mentioned?

          Anti-Arpaio crowd promotes the idea that Arpaio MCSO is a one-stop law-enforcement-prosecution-incarceration shop when it’s not, never has been.

          • Oh. Ok.

            County Attorneys…

            Andy Thomas. He put the employeE in employeR sanctions.
            Rick Romley
            Bill Montgomery

            If I recall…all three of them belong to the same party but it’s name escapes me at this time, Wanumba. Perhaps you can help on that?

            And I seem to recall Arpaio supporting 2 out of 3 of those guys…to the point of being fined for illegal mailers recently…

  5. Perhaps Montgomery fears that investigating elected officials will land him in the same lifeboat with Andrew Thomas.

  6. Christopher Jacoby says:

    Not prosecuting is not the same as innocent. I commend Montgomery for this decision. He knows as well as the public does that this Fiesta Bowl scandal stinks to high heaven but the laws as they are written by our dear legislators made successful prosecution unlikely.

    I like his suggestion- accept no gifts of any kind from anyone!

  7. Or in the alternative, what was going on in the Fiesta Bowl “scandal” was actually quite innocent. I understand there may have been game tickets handed out to certain legislators but can anyone tie that to votes or influence? If Ford gave out enough tickets to ensure every state car was a Ford, you could argue that hurts Chevy and that legislators made certain decisions based on the gifts. On the other hand, I saw what happened in AZSCAM and how little cash it took to buy a vote. In the end, the Fiesta Bowl is a community event that appeals to everyone, and it would be tough to convince a jury that they’re bad actors no matter how many gifts they gave.

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