A federal grand jury returned a nine-count indictment this week against former Fiesta Bowl employee Natalie Wisneski for allegedly making illegal campaign contributions to Arizona Republicans in the name of others.
The feds say Wisneski, 47, also filed false tax returns as an officer and “high-paid employee” of the Fiesta Bowl. They say she solicited campaign contributions from Fiesta Bowl employees for federal, state and local candidates while agreeing to reimburse the employees for their contributions with Fiesta Bowl money.
Wisneski resigned from her job in March. An investigation into former Fiesta Bowl chief executive officer John Junker is ongoing, as the Associated Press reports:
A 276-page report of an investigation conducted by Fiesta Bowl board members and a retired Arizona state Supreme Court justice found the ”apparent scheme” to reimburse at least $46,539 for employees’ political contributions.
The probe also found ”an apparent conspiracy to conceal the reimbursement scheme from the bowl’s Board of Directors and state officials,” according to the news release accompanying the report.[…]
The report also uncovered spending of $33,000 for a birthday bash for Junker in Pebble Beach, Calif., $13,000 for the wedding of one of his aides and a $1,200 tab at a Phoenix strip club. The report outlined junkets and free football tickets for many Arizona legislators who had not revealed the gifts as required by state law.
One part of the indictment alleges that in early Oct. 2006, an employee of “Lobbyist D” exchanged emails with a Fiesta Bowl employee about a fundraiser for J.D. Hayworth. At the end of the email string, Officer A wrote to the Fiesta Bowl employee: “DO NOT send any emails frm office. U and I will discuss shortly.” The AP says that “Officer A” is likely Junker.
While the Fiesta Bowl asked politicians who received the money, like Sens. John McCain and Jon Kyl, to return the contributions, they instead gave them to charity.