SBD/February 15, 2011/People and Pop Culture

Fiesta Bowl CEO John Junker Placed On Paid Administrative Leave

Investigation examining allegations Junker was involved in improper contributions
The Fiesta Bowl board yesterday placed longtime President & CEO JOHN JUNKER "on paid administrative leave while an independent internal investigation examines allegations he was involved in improper political-campaign contributions and questionable expense reimbursements," according to Craig Harris of the ARIZONA REPUBLIC. It is "unclear whether he would be asked to permanently resign or could be fully reinstated in the future." Until Junker's future with the bowl is determined, former Fiesta Bowl Chair ALAN YOUNG "will be interim chief of staff of the organization." The decision to place Junker on paid leave marks the "first time the Fiesta Bowl has acknowledged that Junker, who makes nearly $600,000 a year, has been questioned regarding potential financial irregularities." A report in December '09 cited past and present Fiesta Bowl employees as saying that they "were urged by Junker to make political contributions and were later reimbursed by the bowl, which is illegal." Bowl officials "stood behind Junker for months," saying that "neither Junker nor the bowl had done anything wrong." But shortly after the report appeared, the Fiesta Bowl "hired former Arizona Attorney General GRANT WOODS to conduct an investigation" into the findings. Bowl officials later "formed a special committee to conduct an independent investigation." That investigation is "ongoing, but some of its findings led to Junker being placed on administrative leave." Harris notes Fiesta Bowl Chair DUANE WOODS in recent months has "worked to tighten spending practices at the bowl," and he "had the bowl cut ties with all lobbyists" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 2/15). The Fiesta Bowl yesterday in a statement said that there is "no timetable for completion" of the investigation. Duane Woods last month said that he "expected findings by February" (USATODAY.com, 2/14).
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