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.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.