Arizona Capitol

Tony Bouie, Ex-Arizona Lottery Director, Lived Large by Abusing Sports Ticket Privileges

Former Arizona Lottery Director Tony Bouie often took advantage of free luxury box seats at sporting events, records show, and he sometimes took family or friends.

"I hope your family enjoyed the rest of the Suns game last night, and that your daughter had a great birthday!" — Jessica Gonzalez of Laneterralever, on Bouie's taking seats in the Lottery's taxpayer-funded Phoenix Suns suite December 18.

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Bouie, a former NFL player appointed to his post in February 2015 by Governor Doug Ducey, resigned in January two days after publication of a New Times article about allegations against him including his illegal use of a state vehicle.

Bouie already was heading toward trouble at the time of the article because of concerns of a powerful state senator who didn't want to confirm his appointment. After Ducey's office pressured Bouie to resign, the state Attorney General's Office confirmed that Bouie was under investigation for potential abuses.

Records show that Bouie, an ex-Tampa Bay Buccaneers player and small-time businessman with big-time political connections, used his position at the agency to live large and receive star treatment in the world of professional sports that was so familiar to him.

In a February 12 follow-up article, New Times detailed how Bouie spent taxpayer money on a redesign and renovation of the lottery's executive area and his office, including nearly $4,000 on rugs alone. Video released at that time confirmed that Bouie routinely took his children to and from work in a state car, in flagrant violation of state policy and law.

The latest batch of public records released by the lottery details how Fox Sports Arizona and Laneterralever, the local advertising company for the lottery, helped hook up Bouie  — and sometimes one or more of his four kids — with suite tickets on numerous occasions.

Bouie abused privileges to a University of Phoenix Stadium loft that costs the lottery up to $15,500 per game and is meant to host lottery winners and select community members. Twice last year, records show, Bouie snatched loft tickets to treat himself, his wife, and his four children.

It's unclear from the records who paid for all of Bouie's suite seats at local ballgames  — but in many cases, it was taxpayers. Laneterralever, which signed a new contract with the lottery in September, secures pricey lofts for Arizona Cardinals, Arizona Diamondbacks, Phoenix Suns, Phoenix Mercury, and Arizona Coyotes games.

At other games, Bouie shared Fox Sports' suite.

Several times last year, representatives of Laneterralever and Fox Sports arranged for the director to perform a quick-and-easy pregame interview about lottery games and issues. Then Bouie  — who was earning $115,700 a year — was "free to enjoy the game" at someone else's expense, records show.

Last year, he and sometimes his guests sat in suite seats at two Cardinals games, four Suns games, four Diamondbacks games, three Coyotes games, and a Mercury game, records show.

New Times reviewed 170 pages of e-mails, among other documents, that detail Bouie's experiences with sporting events and related banquets. Here are some of the highlights:

* On October 3, Bouie had to perform an interview before a baseball game. Darcy Basinger, an account executive with Fox Sports, hosted the event, which included 12 tickets to Fox Sports' catered suite. The interview began at 4:50 p.m. At 5, according to the plan revealed in an e-mail, Basinger was to "escort Executive Director Bouie up to suite level to enjoy game with guests." [Several schedules contain similar phrasing about enjoying the game.]

* On October 10, Fox Sports general manager Brian Hogan asked Bouie's secretary if Bouie wanted suite seats, "glass" seats, or "10 rows up" seats for an Arizona Coyotes game. Bouie e-mailed the secretary back a few hours later, "Suite." Basinger sent him two suite tickets. 

* Bouie was asked by Fox Sports how many suite tickets he wanted for the Suns game on December 20. Bouie asked for and was given 10 of the tickets.

Basinger tells New Times that Fox Sports put up Bouie in its suite seats in case it needed to conduct another interview with him later, but she couldn't say how many times that may or may not have happened. For the December 20 game, Bouie's request for 10 tickets was met, she said, without elaborating. She declined comment on the identity of any of Bouie's nine guests. Hogan didn't return a call today.

An e-mail from Basinger to Bouie on December 21 hints at who took at least some of the suite seats.

"Thanks for joining us yesterday," Basinger wrote him on December 21. "Always a pleasure seeing you and your family."

Two of the records show that Bouie was called upon for mid-game or postgame interviews. For example, Fox Sports hosted Bouie in its catered suite for a December 18 Suns game in which Bouie was interviewed after the first quarter and at halftime.

However, records show that the next day, Jessica Gonzalez of Laneterralever sent an e-mail suggesting that the night in the suite was more than just about work for Bouie.

"I hope your family enjoyed the rest of the Suns game last night and that your daughter had a great birthday!" Gonzalez wrote him.

The suites purchased by the lottery are intended to boost marketing efforts and to help the community. About half of the suite seats are given to people who win promotions that generate excitement about the state lottery. The other half of the seats typically go to disenfranchised or disabled kids, hard-working community activists, members of the armed services, and other deserving folks. At least one chaperone from the lottery is assigned to each game when the suites are used.

In two other undated e-mails released to New Times, it's clear that Bouie understands — at least a little — the problem with accepting freebies from people working with the lottery.

The Arizona Coyotes lent Bouie and his wife jackets during one game he attended.

"We enjoyed watching the game and participating in the festivities especially since we were warm," Bouie told Coyotes executive vice president Mike Humes. "Unfortunately, I am unable receive gifts as a public official, so I am returning them herein. I look forward to wearing them next time I return to see our elements in action."

Eric Barkyoumb, Arizona Cardinals manager of Partner Service and Activation, wrote Bouie last year to acknowledge that Bouie had declined the gift of a personalized Cardinals jersey, "which we had presented to you as a token of our gratitude."

Since Bouie's benefactors no longer have a reason to schmooze him, this year he'll probably have to shell out his own cash for his family if they attend sporting events.

Below: Scroll through 170 pages of emails released by the Arizona Lottery per New Times request concerning Bouie's use of sports tickets.

Tony Bouie emails 2-29-16