Arizona House Speaker Kirk Adams is the latest politician to be swept into the Fiesta Bowl scandal, saying Wednesday that he would reimburse the bowl more than $1,000 for a 2007 bowl-sponsored trip he took with other lawmakers to Pasadena, Calif.
The speaker also said he has amended his financial-disclosure statements for 2007 and 2008 to show he took the Fiesta Bowl trip and others that were not related to the college football game.
"I'm doing this because upon learning my financial reports were in error, I have been mortified," Adams said in an interview. "But look, I don't think this is a magnanimous gesture."
Adams, R-Mesa, is the seventh state lawmaker to reimburse the bowl after the bowl's release last week of a 276-page report disclosing evidence of potentially illegal employee conduct and spending irregularities. The report also detailed expensive out-of-state trips, which occurred at least seven times in the past five years, for politicians who watched marquee college football games and stayed in upscale hotels at the bowl's expense.
In the wake of the scandal, many legislators have admitted they improperly accepted gifts while participating in the trips that were billed as "educational" weekends designed to showcase the competitive nature of college football. Many legislators, including Adams, brought spouses or family members.
The trips also included lobbyists, among them Doug Cole and Chuck Coughlin, key advisers to Gov. Jan Brewer.
Adams said his $1,064 check to the Fiesta Bowl covers the cost of airfare, hotel, meals and game tickets for him and his wife, JaNae. He said the amount was based on what it would cost today to make a similar trip.
State law permits lawmakers to accept free lodging, travel and meals from lobbyists as long as they are disclosed, but statutes include an "entertainment ban" prohibiting them from accepting free game tickets.
Adams said that while state law does not require him to reimburse the bowl for travel or lodging, he was bothered by what has reputedly gone on at the bowl and he wanted to "return those dollars." Adams said he was paying for his tickets, which he estimated to cost $80 each, even though he recalls no conversation from Fiesta Bowl officials that lawmakers were supposed to pay for tickets. He also said the bowl never sent him an invoice for the tickets.
That statement appears to contradict that of Senate President Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, who went on numerous Fiesta Bowl trips, including the Pasadena trip that Adams attended at which UCLA faced Brigham Young University. Pearce has said he paid face value for all tickets he obtained from the Fiesta Bowl, and that he received invoices from bowl officials for tickets.
The Fiesta Bowl report makes no mention of lawmakers ever paying the Fiesta Bowl for tickets. The bowl has provided no additional details on whether or not Pearce or other lawmakers paid for tickets.
Pearce did not return calls Wednesday.
Mike Philipsen, a spokesman for Pearce, said Pearce asked for invoices from the bowl because he knew he was supposed to pay for the tickets.
"I don't believe they complied with every invoice (request), but he still paid for it," Philipsen said.
In the past week, both Republicans and Democrats have written checks to the bowl for football game tickets. Others have amended their financial disclosure reports to reflect gifts they received from the bowl.
However, Adams is only the second lawmaker to reimburse the bowl for travel and lodging expenses. The other is Sen. Robert Meza, D-Phoenix, who last week wrote a check for $2,000.
Meza said he paid for his airfare and hotels and related costs, even though he was not required to do so, because he wanted to avoid any perception of impropriety.
Senate Ethics Committee Chairman Ron Gould said Wednesday that staffers were continuing to gather information about the Fiesta Bowl and its activities.
If Gould decides to pursue an investigation, he will send letters to those senators who did not report gifts from the Fiesta Bowl, "asking them to justify their actions." He said that he could seek documentation, including canceled checks.
"But I don't know what we'll do if some of the stuff turns out to be criminal," Gould said.
Read more: http://www.azcentral.com/news/election/azelections/articles/2011/04/07/20110407fiesta-bowl-kirk-adams-repays-for-trip.html#ixzz1Iu1Nr75D