Arizona lobbyist Gary Husk pleads guilty to misdemeanor

PHOENIX - An Arizona lobbyist who once represented the Fiesta Bowl and was charged with running an illegal campaign finance scheme on behalf of his lobbying firm pleaded guilty Monday to a misdemeanor charge of conspiracy to make a prohibited contribution.

Prosecutors said they weren't seeking jail time for Gary Husk, who is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 27.

As a result of his plea in Maricopa County Superior Court, 15 felony charges against Husk and his company Husk Partners were dismissed.

But Husk was ordered to pay a $30,000 fine to cover the costs of the investigation against him.

Husk, 56, was charged with using his firm's money to reimburse his staff members who made contributions to high-profile politicians, such as Gov. Jan Brewer.  He wasn't charged for actions he took on behalf of the Fiesta Bowl, though the scheme alleged in Husk's case was similar to a scheme that brought down the top leadership of the Fiesta Bowl.

"I don't think there's anybody among us that could withstand that type of scrutiny and that type of investigation," said Husk on Tuesday.

"It was traumatic for my family, it was devastating for my business."

John Junker, the bowl's former CEO, was fired in March 2011 for leading a conspiracy in which bowl employees were reimbursed at least $46,000 for political-campaign contributions.

In early 2012, Junker pleaded guilty to a federal conspiracy charge and a state charge of soliciting a fraudulent scheme. He faces up to 2 1/2 years in prison on the state and federal charges combined, but his sentencing has been repeatedly postponed because of his assistance in the state's case against Husk.

The federal judge overseeing Junker's federal case has scheduled a hearing Monday afternoon to discuss his concern over the ongoing delays in sentencing the former bowl leader.

Several other Fiesta Bowl employees have pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the bowl investigations. The scandal nearly jeopardized the bowl's role as a host of college football's national championship game and its NCAA license.

Federal and state authorities had raided Husk's office as part of a criminal investigation involving the postseason college game in January 2012.

After Husk's indictment was publicly released, his lawyer said the case against his client was an attempt by Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne to save face after failing to connect Husk to illegal activities at the bowl.

Husk is a former federal prosecutor. His firm represented the bowl from March 2000 to January 2011. 

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