Phoenix, Arizona , United States
Dec 03, 2012 11:49pm
|Info||As one of America’s premier investigative journalists, John has served the public by holding Arizona’s most powerful politicians and government agencies accountable for more than 25 years. |
John’s investigations and articles have played a major role in Arizona’s recent political history and directly impacted Senator John McCain, former Arizona Governor Fife Symington, fundamentalist polygamist leader Warren Jeffs and Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
John’s 1989 story in the Dayton Daily News triggered the Keating Five Senate Ethics Committee hearings that nearly ended Senator McCain’s career. The televised hearings riveted the nation and focused on how a powerful Arizona banker named Charlie Keating convinced Senator McCain and four other Senators to apply pressure on a banking regulator to relax regulations Keating opposed. The regulations were designed to protect taxpayers from bad investments made by the savings and loans industry.
Congress, however, failed to stop the corruption sweeping the industry and nearly every savings and loan in America failed costing us more than $250 billion.
Some of these thrift executives funneled hundreds of millions of dollars of federally-insured deposits into commercial development projects they personally controlled. The projects generated millions of dollar in income and fees for these executives. But when those developments failed, the bankers defaulted on their loans, leaving taxpayers holding the bag for monumental losses. One such thrift executive was former Arizona Governor J. Fife Symington.
In the 1990s, John’s series for the Phoenix New Times uncovered Gov. Symington’s use of multiple financial statements to disguise his crumbling development business from lenders. John published scores of stories that foreshadowed Symington’s 1996 federal indictment and subsequent conviction in U.S. District Court and resignation from office in September 1997.
In late 2002, allegations of sexual abuse of young girls by fundamentalist polygamists became an issue in the Arizona gubernatorial election. John went to the isolated town of Colorado City on the Utah border and he dissected the roots of a powerful theocracy that had taken over every aspect of government.
John’s series exposed a litany of human rights and financial abuses and the emergence of a rare genetic disorder that is spreading through the isolated sect. For more than 50 years, Arizona and Utah ignored the atrocities that were occurring in Colorado City and neighboring Hildale, UT. John’s stories attracted international attention and unleashed widespread public outcry that finally forced law enforcement to take action. Polygamist leader Warren Jeffs is now behind bars.
With the 1992 election of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Apraio, it soon became apparent that Arpaio was overwhelmingly focused on increasing the number inmates in jail and cared little about civil liberties. Arpaio understood how to use the media to his advantage and his tough on crime bravado resonated with the public.
In the summer of 2004, John revealed that Arpaio had $1 million in secret real estate holdings. John also described Arpaio’s flagrant abuse of power aimed at his opponents and a reported on a systemic pattern of campaign corruption. Arpaio retaliated and convinced former County Attorney Andrew Thomas to launch an ill-advised grand jury probe that abruptly ended following its exposure in the New Times in 2007 and loud public outcry.
The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office is now the target of a federal grand jury investigation related to possible abuse of power.
John’s freelance stories have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, High Country News and the Arizona Republic and he’s been a frequent contributor to KJZZ and KAET’s Horizon. John has been named Arizona Journalist of the Year three times and won the prestigious Don Bolles Award for Investigative Reporting on two occasions.
John’s father, Jack, is a U.S. Naval Academy graduate (1954), and his mother, Sally, a homemaker. They live in Fairfax, Va., where John was raised. John moved to Tempe in 1974 to attend Arizona State University. He graduated with a B.S. Journalism in 1978 and a B.S. Economics in 1981. John was member of the ASU swimming team and a reporter and sports editor at the State Press. John was named to the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism Hall of Fame in 1996.
John, and his wife, Liz, an artist and curator of ASU’s Northlight Gallery, were married last October and live in Central Phoenix. They enjoy hiking, yoga and swimming. John has two adult sons, Jed and Joey.