Report: Fiesta Bowl employees say bowl repaid political contributions

Over the past decade, employees of a top college football bowl game made political contributions to politicians friendly to the bowl, including some that may have violated campaign finance law, as bowl officials worked to maintain its elite status.

The Arizona Republic on Friday reported that several Tostitos Fiesta Bowl employees informed the paper they they were encouraged to write checks to politicians friendly to the bowl and that the bowl reimbursed them. Such a practice would violate Arizona and federal campaign finance law that bans the funneling of corporate campaign contributions through individuals.

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The Fiesta Bowl is one of four bowl games that fall under the purview of the Bowl Championship Series (BCS). The BCS selects teams to play in top bowl games, as well as the national championship game, based on a complex series of human and computer rankings. 

"If employees are giving contributions and they were being reimbursed, it's illegal, and it's something we definitely would review," Arizona state elections director Amy Bjelland told the Republic. 

Fiesta Bowl CEO John Junker said that the bowl never reimbursed employees and that it did not coordinate the donations.

More than $38,000 in campaign contributions have been made since 2000 by 14 Fiesta Bowl employees, according to the paper. 

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is the only U.S. lawmaker named in the report as a recipient of the donations. State lawmakers also received contributions. 

As the youngest of the four BCS bowls, bowl officials are reportedly concerned that other well known bowls could knock off the Fiesta Bowl for a BCS spot. 

The report comes a week after a House subcommittee passed a bill encouraging college football to scrap its lucrative bowl system for a single-elimination playoff system that some lawmakers say is more fair. 

Interested groups have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars lobbying for and against anti-BCS legislation.