Fiesta Bowl Fiasco: Did County Attorney Bill Montgomery Let Valley Politicos Off the Hook?

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County Attorney Bill Montgomery won't charge any politicians with crimes in connection with the Fiesta Bowl scandal -- even if they probably deserve it.
Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery announced yesterday that no criminal charges will be filed against any of the more than two dozen state legislators who accepted questionable gifts from the scandal-plagued Fiesta Bowl organization while it was headed by former CEO John Junker.

The gist of Montgomery's explanation as to why no charges would be filed is as follows: what many of these politicians did was unethical -- and probably is against against the law -- but isn't necessarily illegal under Arizona's current vague statutes, which require prosecutors to prove that defendants "knowingly" violated the law, which would have made getting any convictions a struggle.

See our post on Montgomery's (lengthy) announcement here.

We've spoken to several people who think Monty's letting his political pals off the hook -- as Junker gets thrown under the bus.

However, as the county attorney was sure to point out, those investigated were both Republicans and Democrats, and his prosecutors didn't take party affiliation into account when investigating the alleged crimes.

Scottsdale Lieutenant Mike Stauffer suggested on his Facebook page that there were no charges filed against anyone because the list of alleged offenders includes Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who Stauffer is hoping to unseat in next year's election.

"Shocking that Montgomery cannot pull a single case together--could it be because the list of offenders included Arpaio? It is time for responsible leaders who will make ethical decisions and be accountable to the people," Stauffer posted.

We'll agree that it's hard to believe that elected officials didn't think something was suspicious when they were flying across the country -- and staying in luxury resorts -- on the Fiesta Bowl's dime. Proving what they did was a crime, however -- under Arizona's current laws -- would have been tough.

To Montgomery's credit, he seems equally outraged that a fiasco like the Fiesta Bowl scandal was able to happen.

"The public's expectation is that this can't happen. But it can and it did," he said yesterday.

In response, he's made a list of suggestions he will give to both houses of the state Legislature to help make sure something like this doesn't happen again.

We want to know what you think, though: did Montgomery let Valley politicos off the hook, or is he right to not file charges because of Arizona's vague laws?

Cast your vote below.



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12 comments
anyafanq
anyafanq

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hhoran
hhoran

This post, and most news coverage misses the real Montgomery point.

If Montgomery wasn't first and foremost trying to let politicians off the hook, his opening statement would have been "the legislature wrote a law that bans prosecution when politicians accept bribes unless you can read politicians minds and prove they knew it was a bribe at the time. The law makes ignorance/stupidity/negligence ironclad defenses against prosecution. The law says you can't prosecute bribe taking unless the politician admits law breaking in advance"

Montgomery was not only anxious to let all these politicians off the hook, he was anxious to let the legislature totally off the hook, by creating the false impression that the law was legitimate but there just wasn't solid evidence. Every news outlet and commentator has played along with the second falsehood. Either the law was (mostly) legitimate and ignorance is not a defense, or the law was always a complete sham.

Truthseeker
Truthseeker

No one in Arizona who is an ordinary citizen is EVER let off the hook, but arrested without due process, without thorough investigation and thrown into the media for the "easy" media conviction. That is what makes Mr. Montgomery's decision even more disturbing. How is the investigation into the 200,000 felony cases ex-MCAO Thomas bragged about --- for abuse of power, lack of due process of the innocent and wrongfully convicted?

WhatASurprise
WhatASurprise

One relevant interrogation question to each suspect would tend to show the element of knowingly:  "Did you know that what you did was illegal?"   If the investigation resulted in a yes answer to this question from any of the suspects then that suspect could be prosecuted. But most of them probably hid behind the fifth amendment and their lawyers.

shadeaux14
shadeaux14

The only way Az politicians can be held accountable for their criminal acts is for the citizens to do one of two things, recall them or vote them out of office.      The law enforcement community in this state is so totally corrupt, that they will never do anything about these criminals.

teknik1200
teknik1200

since when can you claim "ignorance" to the law?

Marcy
Marcy

Many crimes require that you knowingly commit the crime.

For example, short changing the government on your income tax return is only a criminal offense if you knowingly do so.  Mistakes don't turn it into a crime.

It isn't a crime to accidently kill someone in many circumstances either. 

I don't think its a bad thing either.  I also agree with Montgomery that the law needs to change to simply ban the gifts, recognize that they are nothing less than bribes and stop with the silly business of saying its OK as long as you report it.

I disagree that a solid criminal case couldn't have been put forth, particularly with serial offenders who weren't new to the political game

David Saint
David Saint

Didnt joe and andy tell us a few years ago about a law that says you must file any gifts in forms when they tried to charge Stapley with it? Pretty easy to prove either way though..Did they go on the trips? I doubt they can hack the hotels computers, so should be pretty easy to prove they were there.  Did they fail to report them on their financial forms, most likely (considering how many said they would go back and do it). Hell, vote me in as CA and even without a law degree i could prove this in court. Just sad how Bill has gone back on his word that "im no ones lap dog"...woof woof pal. whats even worse though, im not the least bit surprised...

Seedy Ward
Seedy Ward

Sorry, a bribe is a bribe. That seems cut and dried to me.

Pietromp
Pietromp

If you actually believe Montgomery was going to indict any of these CORRUPT POLITICOS, then you still believe in Santa Claus...!

Coz
Coz

I never expected anything different to come from all this. It's well known that the current Arizona administration politicians can break all the laws they want and never be held accountable.

Unfortunately justice was not same for the City and County employee's that were fired for accepting free tickets. Talk about don't do as I do, do as I say.

Montgomery is nothing more than another corrupt politician doing what they do best, protecting their own.

Until Arizona starts electing honest politicians, if that's even possible, Arizona will always be a corrupt dirty hole in the desert.

Arpaioout2012
Arpaioout2012

Bill Montgomery the douche-bag, another Arizona illegitimate.

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