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Out of Bounds

A candidate, UA football tix and big shots.

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The University of Arizona has been forced to chop more than $20 million in spending this year, but one of its assistant vice presidents--who happens to be a candidate for Congress--took time to affix his signature to a batch of letters to local politicians and big-shot bureaucrats offering complimentary UA football tickets.

Jamie Gutierrez, it should be noted, valued education more than most current legislators during his time in the state Senate. And, now that he pulls down $99,200 in annual salary as the assistant VP for community relations at the UA, he no doubt values it more.

Gutierrez failed to return messages asking about the propriety of his signature on the football ticket giveaway.

But Janet Bingham, the UA vice president for advancement and Gutierrez's boss, who shared space on the ticket offer, said they are sent each year to provide UA officials and local wheels "an opportunity to get together outside the stress of our jobs."

Gutierrez has the added stress of an uphill battle for the Democratic nomination in an eight-way primary in District 7 that concludes Sept. 10. Bingham insisted Gutierrez is not campaigning on UA time but is using vacation time and reducing his schedule with a commensurate cut in pay.

And the football ticket letter was not meant to provide a needed boost to his campaign, Bingham said. UA President Peter Likins makes similar offers to members of the Board of Regents, business leaders and donors. And Greg Fahey, the UA's $121,960-a-year associate vice president for government relations, also offered free tickets to legislators.

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