The Fiesta Bowl today released the findings of a far-reaching and comprehensive investigation by an independent Special Committee of the Board of Directors that has led to the immediate termination of president and CEO John Junker.
The investigation examined issues related to the reimbursement of campaign contributions; a previous investigation conducted by former Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods; excessive executive compensation; and inappropriate expenditures and gifts.
The Fiesta Bowl Board of Directors formed the independent Special Committee to investigate allegations of wrongdoing after an employee came forward to provide information about some of the alleged misconduct. The Special Committee, which was composed of retired Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justice Ruth McGregor and Fiesta Bowl Directors Jim Bruner and Steve Whiteman, conducted a wide-ranging, five-month investigation.
The investigation included the review of more than 55 gigabytes of electronic data and of tens of thousands of pages of documents, and interviews with more than 50 individuals. Two former FBI agents and a retired Maricopa County Deputy Criminal Chief assisted the Special Committee with its interviews and fact-finding mission.
The Special Committee uncovered many facts, including:
- An apparent scheme to reimburse at least $46,539 in improper campaign contributions.
- A flawed initial investigation and an apparent conspiracy to conceal the reimbursement scheme from the Board of Directors and state officials.
- Unauthorized and excessive compensation, non-business and inappropriate expenditures (including a $1,200 bill at a Valley strip club) and inappropriate gifts.
After reviewing the results of the Special Committee’s investigation, the Board of Directors voted unanimously to fire Junker for his role in the improper and inappropriate activities documented in the final report. Junker was placed on administrative leave on Feb. 14 after failing to comply with two written directives by the Fiesta Bowl to cooperate with the Special Committee’s investigation.
“We are extremely disappointed and angered by the findings of the Special Committee’s investigation,” said Duane Woods, chairman of the Fiesta Bowl Board of Directors. “While the Special Committee Final Report speaks for itself, I must say that the actions undertaken and orchestrated by John Junker and others are shocking and completely unacceptable.
“Their actions, unfortunately, have tainted the stellar reputation that the Fiesta Bowl has worked so hard to maintain for more than 40 years. The Fiesta Bowl, however, is greater than a few individuals; it is the product of thousands of dedicated volunteers and exemplary employees who work tirelessly and care so deeply about the Fiesta Bowl and all it does for the state of Arizona.”
Special Committee member and former Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justice Ruth McGregor praised the Fiesta Bowl Board of Directors for establishing and empowering the Special Committee.
“It took great courage for the Board to take the necessary steps to get to the bottom of these allegations and review its business practices,” McGregor said. “The Special Committee was instructed to complete a full investigation and follow the facts wherever they led. With the assistance of our independent legal counsel and other experts, we worked very hard in our fact-finding mission to determine exactly what transpired.
“We are confident that our report is thorough and accurate. Although the findings are deeply disturbing, I am gratified that the Fiesta Bowl Board of Directors is moving forward with affirmative and concrete steps to address its problems.”
Woods added, “The Fiesta Bowl is legally bound and highly motivated to recover money that was misappropriated and will be examining all of our options to do so. I want to thank Justice McGregor and our Special Committee for their thorough investigation. The Fiesta Bowl will continue its full cooperation with the Arizona Attorney General’s investigation.”