The attorney who conducted an internal investigation into the campaign contributions scandal at the Fiesta Bowl said Wednesday the committee that operates the game is closely following his recommendations to change its operations.
“I can’t think of one of those recommendations that the bowl didn’t implement — and it was eight pages, single spaced,” said Chris Madel, the attorney who was hired by a special committee to conduct a second internal investigation of the bowl game.
“I can say the Fiesta Bowl approach, and their lawyers’ approach, to this right now in the reviewing and reporting is a textbook example of how best to position your organization in the good graces of the federal and state government.”
Whether the bowl can save its spot in the lucrative Bowl Championship Series rotation for the national championship game remains unclear.
Madel’s comments, which followed a keynote address at a meeting of the Ethics and Compliance Officer Association, echoed statements made by members of a seven-member BCS task force looking into the operational problems uncovered in Madel’s report.
The task force is not expected to announce until May whether the Fiesta Bowl will remain in the title rotation. Madel was questioned during the BCS’s private meeting Saturday in Chicago.
The Fiesta Bowl problems stemmed from reports that some of its employees were directed to make campaign donations that the bowl would reimburse, which is a felony. Madel’s investigation also uncovered evidence that staff members were reimbursed for visits to strips clubs, personal travel and wedding expenses.
Madel’s look into the business practices of the bowl were the second investigation. The first occurred when Gary Husk, a paid lobbyist for the bowl, and former state attorney general Grant Woods checked into allegations of financial impropriety. Woods was chosen by Husk, which Madel said was the most surprising thing he and his investigators found.
Woods has been alleged to have kicked back to Husk $20,000 of the $55,000 he was paid by the Fiesta Bowl — before being quoted that there was no credible evidence of campaign contributions being reimbursed by bowl executives.
“It wasn’t our role to rank order of seriousness,” Madel said. “It was our role to square the facts. But from an attorney standpoint — somebody that’s conducted a number of internal investigations — did it raise my eyebrow that somebody that had done lobbying work was involved in an internal investigation regarding the reimbursement of campaign contributions? Sure.”
Though executive director John Junker, who has since been fired, and several other top executives did not cooperate fully with the investigation, Madel said many bowl’s staffers and volunteers were interviewed during daily sessions that lasted from 1½ hours to 12 hours.
“There were numerous instances,” Madel said, “where I would ask about A, B, C and D, and we’d get to the end of the interview and I would say ‘Can you tell me anything else that’s illegal, unethical or morally wrong that was going on?’
“I asked that question, and I can’t tell you how many times they gave me E, F and G, things that we never would have found unless they had brought this stuff forward.”