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Fiesta Bowl CEO John Junker Fired; Allegations Include Using Money For Strip Club Visits

The Fiesta Bowl has fired CEO John Junker after a report by the Bowl's oversight committee found evidence of lavish spending, political dealings well beyond the scope of a non-profit organization, and inappropriate political donations made by employees of the Fiesta Bowl who were then reimbursed with bogus bonus payments.

In a report released on the Fiesta Bowl's website on Tuesday afternoon, the committee explained the firing was a result of three key instances of mismanagement that occurred during Junker's tenure.

• 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 and inappropriate gifts.

That "unauthorized and excessive compensation' and other inappropriate expenditures included paying to shuttle around Arizona politicians and throw private parties for them. The parties were not limited to politicians, however: Junker himself threw a $33,000 party for himself for his fiftieth birthday, flying his family and bowl officials to Pebble Beach at the Bowl's expense. The Bowl also covered wedding travel expenses totaling $13,000 for Junker's assistant.

The most entertaining expenditure and subsequent testimony surrounds Junker's visit to a Phoenix strip club where he and the security consultant for the Fiesta Bowl spent $1200 of the Bowl's money. This was his explanation (via the NY Times:)

According to the report, 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.”

Big strong athletes do visit strip clubs, so it's hard to argue with that element of Junker's logic. There was evidently enough corruption elsewhere to dismiss Junker outright according to the Fiesta Bowl, with the organization now vowing to clean up its image through a series of internal reforms.