The Fiesta Bowl fiasco has raised questions about elected officials' judgement in accepting tickets and travel to football games, especially when the sports organizations inevitably wind up before the same officials asking for financial support.
Now, as Arizona prepares its bid to host the Super Bowl in 2015, we asked Phoenix elected officials how many Super Bowl games they've attended and who paid for their tickets and travel-related expenses.
The questions proved too much for Councilman Claude Mattox, a nearly 12-year veteran on the council who is in the race to become Phoenix's next mayor.
We asked Mattox, Tom Milton, a fomer Phoenix City Councilman and Mattox's campaign manager, and one of Mattox's media reps at Reister. No one answered the questions.
Peggy Neely and Greg Stanton, former council members and current mayoral candidates, tell New Times they didn't attend any Super Bowl games.
Councilman Mike Johnson, who served on the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee, said he attended at least one game. He couldn't recall if there were others.
In an e-mail, Milton says on behalf of Mattox:
"Any travel the councilman has done in his official capacity with the City of Phoenix can be discovered with a public records request through the city's Public Information Office. Had he received any 'gifts' they would have been declared as is required by law. He is not required to disclose his own personal private travel or purchase of tickets."
Phoenix officials say the Finance Department doesn't have any travel records for elected officials to the Super Bowl.
We know Mattox attended at least one Super Bowl game in Jacksonville, Florida, based on a letter to the editor ("Jacksonville is the winner,") he wrote to the Florida Times-Union in 2005.
Mattox, a "former resident of Jacksonville, with many family and friends still in the community," thanked the city "for a great party." He also praised the game, the entertainment, and "warm Southern hospitality."
And he may also have been at the 2008 Super Bowl hosted in Glendale. It's unclear whether he attended the game or was just partying on the perimeter... but he was spotted in some pictures with country music legend Willie Nelson.
We checked with Mike Kennedy, an attorney at Gallagher and Kennedy and the chairman of the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee, repeatedly for answers, particularly about who attended Super Bowl games. He finally called back today and says he will have a response, perhaps by week's end.
It's unclear whether he will answer specific questions or provide a general response on behalf of the Host Committee.
We are also waiting to hear back from Phoenix officials who are checking into how much money the city has contributed to the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee.
One city document from 2003 noted that Phoenix's portion for an upcoming Super Bowl bid "would be $600,000 to $750,000 [in] cash to underwrite the expenses of the Hosting Committee."
There also are unlimited police, fire, and other city services that Phoenix is obligated to provide the NFL during the game and all the related community events.
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