Don Bauder 5:30 p.m., Jan. 29
Fiesta Bowl Execs Partied in San Diego
Call it the Junker Junket -- one of many. Phoenix's Fiesta Bowl (a college football bowl game) has fired its chief executive, John Junker, for lavish spending, inappropriate political contributions by employees, and political dealings beyond the scope of a non-profit organization. Junker and his organization piled up big expenses on trips that had a dubious connection with business -- particularly a Phoenix strip club. Junker explained to investigators, "We are in the business where big strong athletes are known to attend these types of establishments. It was important for us to visit, and we certainly conducted business."
But a San Diego trip did not appear to have much of a business connection, if any. According to the report issued March 21, in October of 2009, the Fiesta Bowl spent $4,000 for Junker and former board member Mike Allen to fly to San Diego to meet with consultant Gary Husk "to play golf and spend several nights at the Grand Del Mar," according to the report. The chief operating officer, Natalie Wisneski did not think the trip had a business purpose. Junker said that he met with Husk at the hotel to discuss football bowl games. Asked why the meeting had to be held so far from Phoenix, Junker explained to investigators, "One of the things I was interested in was getting away from the telephone and things like that. We did long range planning." Allen was there to counsel on how Fiesta Bowl agreements work, claimed Junker.