WASHINGTON – A watchdog group wants the Federal Election Commission to launch an investigation into the Fiesta Bowl for reimbursing its employees for campaign donations.
In its complaint filed Tuesday, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington urged the FEC to declare that the Arizona-based college football game violated federal election laws and to impose sanctions.
The complaint is based on an internal report released by the bowl last week, which found that the Fiesta Bowl reimbursed at least $46,539 in political donations to its employees — an apparent violation of elections laws. The CREW complaint is focused on the federal campaign donations, which it says total $28,500.
It also says the bowl violated federal election laws by using its facilities to host fundraisers for candidates for federal office.
"The question here isn't whether anyone broke the law — independent investigators already found violations — it is whether the FEC will do anything about it," said Melanie Sloan, CREW's executive director. She said she didn't think the FEC would take action: "They never do anything about anything."
An FEC spokeswoman said the agency can't comment on specific complaints it receives, and had no response to Sloan's comments.
Fiesta Bowl spokesman Andy Bagnato said the bowl "has and will continue to cooperate with any governmental agency or body" looking into the disclosures made in last week's report. The Fiesta Bowl fired John Junker when the report came out.
The report also found questionable outlays by the bowl in areas outside of politics, such as $33,188 for a birthday party for Junker in Pebble Beach., Calif., $13,000 for the wedding and honeymoon of Junker's assistant, and a $1,200 tab at a Phoenix strip club for Junker and two others.
But most of their report centers on the contribution scheme, in existence since at least 2002, where top officials would strongly urge employees to make contributions to favored candidates, including Arizona Republican Sens. John McCain and Jon Kyl.