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Maricopa County for the past 14 years has hosted an annual golf tournament that solicits thousands of dollars in donations for charities from dozens of the county’s largest contracted vendors.
In the past three years alone, 58 companies have donated sponsorships for the county’s golf tournament. About 53 either had active contracts, had contracts up for renewal, or did business with the county at or around the time of the tournament, and collectively paid at least $336,877 in donations to the county’s charity campaign, records show.
About 40 other companies, both contracted and non-contracted, donated in-kind items such as gift cards, weekend stays at resorts, suites to professional basketball and hockey games, and golf foursomes for a raffle and silent auction at the tournament.
Government ethicists say the practice raises concerns, particularly because it could be perceived by taxpayers and unsuccessful county vendors as creating conflicts of interest that damage the integrity of the county procurement process.
Some vendors who paid for foursomes at the annual golf game, and who golfed with county employees at the event, were contracted by the county for large capital-improvement or technology projects worth millions of dollars. Among them are the new, $335 million downtown court tower and a $20.1 million project to upgrade the countywide phone system.