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Old Topic: Fife Symington

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posted on May, 4 2010 @ 11:50 PM

From the National Governors Association:
Governor's Information

Arizona Governor J. Fife Symington III

Born: August 12, 1945
Birth State: New York
Party: Republican
Family: Married Ann Olin Pritzlaff; five children
Religion: Episcopalian
School(s): Harvard University
Periods in Office: From: March 6, 1991
To: September 5, 1997

State Web Site

War(s) Served: Vietnam War

Honors/Awards: Bronze Star

J. FIFE SYMINGTON III was born in New York City and raised in Maryland. He earned a bachelor's degree in liberal arts from Harvard University in 1968. He joined the U.S. Air Force after graduation and in 1971 was awarded the Bronze Star for Meritorious Service in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War; he retired from the Air Force in 1971 with the rank of captain. He founded the Symington Company, a commercial and industrial development firm, in 1976, where he remained president and CEO until May 1989, when he began his gubernatorial campaign. After a runoff election in 1991, he became the 19th Governor of Arizona. As governor, he presided over tax reductions, income growth and surging capital investments. However, after six years in office, Symington was convicted in September 1997 of criminal charges that he defrauded lenders as a real estate developer in the 1980s. He promptly resigned and was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison. Free, pending appeal, Symington earned a degree in culinary arts and restaurant management. In 1999, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit overturned Symington's conviction. Two years later, he won a pardon from President Bill Clinton. (Interestingly, Symington met Clinton decades before in Hyannis, Massaschusetts. One day, Symington said, Clinton swam too far out and was caught in a riptide. Symington said he swam out to pull Clinton to shore, an act that prompted much needling from Republicans decades later.) Exonerated, Symington founded his own culinary school and now works as a pastry chef at a restaurant in Phoenix.


Governors of the American States, Commonwealths and Territories, National Governors' Association, 1996.


From Wiki:
Second term (1994 - 1997)
The Grand Canyon National Park was shut down for the first time ever in November 1995, because of the federal budget impasse. On November 17, Symington's response came very close to creating a national crisis.[2][3] Symington, citing the dire effects of the park's closure on tourism, stated that the "Grand Canyon must remain open, by force, if necessary." The Pentagon warned the head of the Arizona National Guard against the use of force and raised the possibility that, if necessary, the guard would be federalized and brought under the control of the White House. The governor decided to go ahead and, accompanied by the Speaker of the House, fifty unarmed National Guard troops, twenty-five state Park Department employees, and other people, traveled to canyon. When Symington's group arrived, Symington beat on the park gates in front of the media.[4]
The US Department of Interior later reopened the park under state supervision.[4] A federal agency reimbursed Arizona the $370,020 the state donated to keep the Grand Canyon National Park open during the government shutdowns.[5]
Later, Symington was indicted on charges of extortion, making false financial statements, and of bank fraud. He was convicted of bank fraud in 1997. As Arizona state law does not allow convicted felons to hold office, Symington resigned his office on September 5, 1997.[6]
This conviction, however, was overturned in 1999 by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Six days into jury deliberations, the trial judge had granted the government's motion to dismiss a juror because she was leaning toward acquittal and the other jurors complained that she was keeping them from reaching a unanimous verdict. The appeals court ruled that the dismissal violated Symington's right to a fair trial. He was subsequently pardoned by President Clinton near the end of his presidency in January 2001. The pardon terminated the federal government's seven year battle with the former governor.[7]



posted on May, 4 2010 @ 11:55 PM
From Time:

Monday, Jun. 24, 1996
Republican Fife Symington has waged two successful campaigns for Governor of Arizona by touting himself as a manager and an entrepreneur. "He told people that he'd run Arizona like a business," says state Democratic chairman Sam Coppersmith. "Every Arizonan has been praying that he didn't mean like his business."

The praying began eight months into Symington's first term, when federal prosecutors launched an investigation into the Governor's real estate-development business. Last fall Symington declared personal bankruptcy. In March a grand jury looking into his personal finances indicted two associates for bid rigging on state contracts. Capping an exhaustive five-year federal probe, that same grand jury has indicted the Governor on 23 counts, including making false statements, wire fraud, bankruptcy fraud and attempted extortion.

Symington welcomed the development. "The days of secrecy and innuendo and endless leaks are over," he told a news conference. "At long last the day in court is now near." Predicting that "a jury will judge me innocent," Symington said he had no intention of stepping down--even though he jump-started his own political career by urging Governor Evan Mecham to do so, when Mecham was indicted in 1988 (and later acquitted) for concealing a campaign loan.

An heir to the Frick steel fortune whose relatives have figured in business and government for centuries, John Fife Symington III made his local reputation as a real estate developer. But 13 of his projects went belly up. One, the Phoenix Mercado mall, was financed with $10 million from six union pension funds, which sued for repayment, eventually forcing Symington into bankruptcy.

Last week's federal indictment repeats many of the allegations made earlier by the pension funds' lawyer, Michael Manning, that there were "wild swings" in Symington's declarations of net worth, depending on whether he was trying to procure a loan or escape repaying it. At one point in 1991, according to the indictment, Symington listed his net worth at $4 million for one lender; six weeks later, he told another lender he was $4.1 million in debt. Symington's lawyer, John Dowd, calls these "unintended errors and omissions.'' To confuse the issue, Symington's wife Ann Olin Pritzlaff Symington has her own inherited wealth. "When it was convenient, they called it Ann's separate property, and when it was convenient, they called it Fife's," says Manning.

Manning suggested that Symington ran for office because he was going broke. A novel promissory note signed in 1992 between Symington and Phoenix lender Jerome Hirsch drastically scaled down the money owed if Symington were to be President when the loan came due. The indictment's count of attempted extortion charges that in trying to soften repayment terms on the $10 million union loan, Symington as Governor threatened to cancel a lucrative Arizona State University lease.

Arizonans, beaten down by the Evan Mecham and S&L king Charles Keating scandals, may have little patience for leaving Symington in office--even though in a way it seems their prayers were answered. Says Jerry Colangelo, a principal owner of the Phoenix Suns: "No one can argue that the state [isn't] in the best financial shape it has been for years."

--By David Van Biema. Reported by Richard Woodbury/Phoenix


Is Fife Symington a trustful source for disclosure?


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