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2012 Fiesta Bowl: Arizona Politicians Will Not Face Charges After Free Ticket Probe

After more than eight months of investigations, two dozen Arizona politicians will not be indicted on charges of allegedly receiving free trips or tickets from the Fiesta Bowl due to lack of evidence, according to Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery in an AP report. 

Montgomery cited inconsistencies between state laws and vague reporting as large stop-blocks to their investigation, as well as a legal requirement that prosecutors prove a defendant "knowingly violated the law" as a part of their decision, which was the most difficult of all. 

"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.    

The investigation included evidence that 31 current or former politicians in the state of Arizona received free trips or game tickets, with many apparently conflicting with state law that bans receipt of free tickets in most cases. There were also a number of failed reports on what they received in their annual financial disclosure report.

The Fiesta Bowl wants all politicians who received more than $161,000 worth of trips/tickets to fully explain themselves, and have implied to repay the costs if the spending truly can’t be justified. Some had already have. 

Twenty-eight of those Montgomery investigated were current or former state lawmakers, including former state Senate President Russell Pearce, who allegedly received more than $39,000 in tickets, trips and other items. From 2002 through 2009, Pearce went on trips funded by the Fiesta Bowl to games in places like San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Atlanta, Pasadena, and Dallas. Other high-level recipients include former lawmaker Robert Blendu with $17,213, and state Sen. Linda Lopez with $16,877.