Thursday, November 17, 2011

Fiesta Bowl Nonprofit Fraud Continues

by Gary Snyder

As readers of Nonprofit Imperative will recall, investigators of the Fiesta Bowl abuses reported spending of $33,000 for a birthday bash 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 also outlined junkets and free football tickets for many Arizona legislators who had not revealed the gifts as required by state law.

A 276-page report of an investigation conducted by Fiesta Bowl board members and a retired Arizona state Supreme Court justice found an “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. The Chief Operating Officer was indicted on charges over allegations she solicited campaign contributions from bowl employees for federal, state and local political candidates and arranged for the bowl to repay them. Natalie Wisneski resigned from her job in March, shortly after bowl president and chief executive officer John Junker was fired after the apparent campaign-donation scheme was made public. The indictment alleges Wisneski twice signed tax returns for the nonprofit bowl that stated it did not give money to political campaigns or pay for lobbyists, both barred practices for tax-exempt entities. She also allegedly collected political donations from co-workers and later wrote checks from Fiesta Bowl accounts to reimburse them.
The investigation into the Fiesta Bowl’s conduct under Junker is ongoing and the organization under its new leadership is cooperating. The Arizona attorney general is also involved in the probe, and an investigation into numerous state politicians who took free tickets from the bowl is also under way.

Nonprofit Imperative gathers its information principally from public documents...some of which are directly quoted. Virtually all cited are in some phase of criminal proceedings; some have not been charged, however. Cites in various media: Featured in print, broadcast, and online media outlets, including: Vermont Public Radio, Miami Herald, National Public Radio, Huffington Post, The Sun News, Atlanta Journal Constitution, Wall Street Journal (Profile, News and Photos), FOX2, ABC Spotlight on the News, WWJ Radio, Ethics World, Aspen Philanthropy Newsletter, Harvard Business Review, Current Affairs, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, St. Petersburg Times, B, USA Today Topics, ,, Responsive Philanthropy Magazine, New York Times...and many more • Nonprofits: On the Brink (iUniverse, 2006)
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