Former Fiesta Bowl executive indicted in campaign contributions case

The former COO of the Fiesta Bowl is accused of handling illegal political contributions.

Story highlights

  • Natalie Wisneski is accused of steering Fiesta Bowl money to political campaigns
  • Political contributors were reimbursed with Fiesta Bowl money, prosecutors allege
  • The U.S. attorney for Arizona says the investigation continues
A federal grand jury in Phoenix has indicted the Fiesta Bowl's former chief operating officer on accusations of causing and then covering up illegal political contributions, lying to federal authorities and filing false tax returns.
Natalie Wisneski, 47, was forced to resign in March after an internal investigation by the college football's Fiesta Bowl discovered the widespread misuse of bowl money. That probe widened into the brewing scandal.
The nine-count indictment against Wisneski says she solicited campaign contributions from Fiesta Bowl employees for elections over several election cycles, and reimbursed the contributors with Fiesta Bowl funds.
She then filed false election records and tax returns to hide the contributions, the indictment alleges. It says Wisneski had conspired with others from 2003 through 2011.
Among recipients of the contributions were the re-election campaigns of Sens. John McCain and Jon Kyl, Gov. Jan Breuer, and Rep. J.D. Hayworth. The contributions also included funds for McCain's presidential election in 2008.
In addition, $10,000 was provided and covered up for the second-term inauguration of then-Gov. Janet Napolitano in 2007, the indictment alleges.
The acting U.S. attorney for Arizona, Ann Birmingham Scheel, announced the indictment Wednesday in Phoenix. She stressed the investigation is ongoing.
Fiesta Bowl CEO John Junker was fired by the bowl's board of directors in March, but the indictment of Wisneski is the first to result from the federal criminal investigation.
The state attorney general's office is also investigating the case.