Governor’s office received Super Bowl tickets, but did they violate state law?

Questions are being raised over Gov. Katie Hobbs' staff getting free tickets to Super Bowl 57 and some say it's more than just unethical.
Published: Sep. 14, 2023 at 6:19 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Super Bowl 57 put Arizona on the world’s stage, but the sky-high ticket prices made it nearly impossible for average Arizonans to attend the game at State Farm Stadium in Glendale. But members of Governor Katie Hobbs’ staff received free tickets to the game, worth tens of thousands of dollars.

However, there is a state law barring elected officials and public servants from accepting them.

A state officer or state employee shall not accept an expenditure or single expenditure for entertainment from a principal, designated lobbyist, authorized lobbyist, lobbyist for compensation, public body, designated public lobbyist or authorized public lobbyist or any other person acting on that person’s behalf.

Arizona Revised Statute 41-1232.08

“I think the violation still applies to this statute,” Dr. Robert Collins, a political analyst at Dillard University in Louisiana, said. Collins said these type of laws are in place in many states for a simple reason. “It could be used as a form of influence peddling. Now that doesn’t necessarily mean that’s what they’re trying to do in this case. Certainly, their motives might be honest and pure and ethical,” Dr. Collins said.

According to public records, the Arizona Office of Tourism gifted the Governor’s Office twelve tickets. Six of those were given to education and veterans groups, and members of Hobbs’ staff used the remaining half dozen.

“It really doesn’t matter where the tickets originated from. If the tickets originated from a private source and then went through a public body and then went to the Governor, it would still count as a gift,” Dr. Collins said.

An attorney for the Governor’s office told Arizona’s Family the law does not apply in this situation, but they declined to go on camera to explain their stance. Governor Hobbs’ office said the law doesn’t apply in this situation since the Office of Tourism doesn’t lobby the Governor’s Office. However, the statute specifically forbids public servants from taking tickets from “public bodies” and other public entities.

The previous governor, Doug Ducey, received twenty tickets to the 2015 Super Bowl in Glendale. We’re told Ducey paid face value for his ticket and distributed the remaining tickets to veterans groups. At the time, Ducey prohibited his staff from taking free tickets over concerns it was against the law.

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