Still Cookin' Up Excuses For The Past


Since resigning as governor of the State of Arizona, J. Fife Symington has invested a lot of time and effort in overcoming his checkered past.

He's attended a top-notch culinary institute, he's served as a radio commentator, and astonishingly, he's offered his pearls of wisdom as a political adviser to members of the Arizona Republican party.

Advice coming from the man who dominated headlines around the county when he faced criminal charges in 1997 for allegedly falsifying financial statements?

The embattled ex-governor is back in the news, this time defending himself in U.S. Bankruptcy Court against allegations of fraud. In 1990, Symington obtained $10 million in loans from union pension funds to build the doomed Mercado project in downtown Phoenix. Prosecutors say he then used his status as governor to avoid repaying those loans.

In 1995, the governor declared bankruptcy and refused to pay the loans. Five years later, the pension funds are trying to force Symington to repay his debts to the state's blue-collar workers.

Symington just wants to move on with his life. He wants to resume his culinary career. He doesn't want to be cooking up old excuses for past indiscretions.

Those blue-collar workers -- the ones who have been denied millions of dollars in retirement benefits --and their attorneys begin their fight tomorrow to prove that Symington knowingly defrauded the pension funds.

During the criminal case, Symington was found guilty on six counts of fraud, but his conviction was later overturned on a technicality. This time, however, we hope the ex-governor gets his just desserts.

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