Arizona Lawmakers In Hot Water After Receiving Gifts From Casino Owners
Two Glendale Arizona lawmakers find themselves in a spot of trouble after they admitted to accepting gifts from casino owners. The gifts included tickets to major league sporting events.
Jamie Aldama and Ian Hugh who are members of the Glendale City Council have admitted to receiving the gifts and even attending major sporting events with members of the Tohono O'odham Nation, a local Native American Tribe that has gambling operations. This is a troubling admission since the City Council recently gave the Tohono O'odham Nation approval to start its development plans. This includes the opening of a resort near the Desert Diamond Casino.
The chairman of the Tohono O'odham Nation, Edward Manuel, recently told the city council that he wanted to have a good working relationship with the city and other nearby communities.
Aldama claimed that he attended a Final Four game in 2017 along with officials of the tribe. Hugh also said that he attended an Arizona Cardinals game with them, though he did not mention which month this happened. The tickets and the other pricey gifts that were given these officials are what some public officials in Arizona call ‘part of their job’.
The city recently unanimously decided to sell land to the tribe that was connected to traditional tribal lands. The decision was made after years of lawsuits and controversies and the price was fixed at $3.1 million.
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Not Aware Of Potential Conflict Of Interest
Aldama and Hugh attended the games in a private suite that was owned by the tribe. They estimate that it would have cost them around $500 to have been able to attend the games. They insist, however, that they were unaware of the upcoming vote on the land sale and saw no conflict of interest between their gifts and their votes.
The gifts were disclosed as part of the gift disclosure that council members need to file every year with the city administration. Other gifts that were given included Fiesta Bowl tickets and rides on the Arizona Cardinals' private jet.
It is still unclear whether Aldama and Hugh were the only ones to receive a gift from the Tohono O'odham Nation in 2017. When reached for comment, the Tohono O'odham Nation sent a response to the controversy.
In the statement, Treena Parvello, Tohono O'odham Gaming Enterprise spokeswoman said
The Enterprise always attempts to follow relevant regulations pertaining to these issues and will continue to review our procedures to ensure ongoing compliance.