What exactly is defamatory about Rotellini’s ad attacking NOT Tom Horne’s private prison ties?

Crossposted from DemocraticDiva.com

Democratic candidate for AZ Attorney General Felecia Rotellini has been running an ad (click here if embedded video doesn’t work attacking the Republican candidate Mark Brnovich, AKA NOT Tom Horne, for his lobbying for private prisons.

NOT Tom Horne’s camp responded with this very sad attempt to intimidate Rotellini by threatening to sue her.

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NOT Tom Horne alleges that Rotellini is defaming him because the three violent inmates who escaped a private prison in 2010 and murdered a couple were from Arizona and had been sentenced here, so his lobbying for violent criminals from other states is not to blame for that. Also that the prison where the escape occurred was not operated by Brnovich’s client Corrections Corporation of America. Let’s unpack why NOT Tom Horne thinks he’s being defamed:

1. NOT Tom Horne is being defamed because violent inmates from out of state are incapable of ever escaping Arizona private prisons with lax security measures?

2. NOT Tom Horne is being defamed because the private prison where the escape occurred was not run by CCA? So what? The lobbying he did to strip out violent offender transfer prohibitions in SB1547 applied to all private prisons.

Bottom line is that NOT Tom Horne lobbied for more violent offenders to be put in Arizona private prisons, which were originally authorized in the early 90s to house nonviolent drug and alcohol offenders, not rapists and murderers. As the mission of private prisons has expanded, thanks to intense lobbying from the industry, it is clear that some of these facilities are incapable of accommodating violent offenders safely. That was Rotellini’s main point and her campaign is right to continue to running the ad. Obviously, Brnovich’s intention with this letter is not an actual defamation suit, which would be nigh impossible for him to win as a candidate for office. He’s clearly trying to distract and deflect from his private prison ties, since it’s hard to tell what the actual “defamation” is.

It’s worth noting that NOT Tom Horne’s activity with CCA involved a lot more than lobbying against one bill pertaining to out-of-state prisoners. Brnovich was a “senior director of business development” from 2005 to 2007. As the job title implies, he was out to grow the presence of private prisons. That can only be accomplished by getting more bodies into the beds of those facilities. It is also rather difficult to convincingly act as if you have been defamed by someone calling out your private prison ties when you not only lobbied for them but possibly used your position as a prosecutor to get bodies into them (while still a lobbyist for CCA):

The Assistant U.S. Attorney

The reason for stressing the minutiae of Mark Brnovich’s lobby activity/employment on behalf of CCA over the course of 2007 is this: according to a statement of financial disclosure filed by Susan Brnovich on January 24, 2008, Mark Brnovich had two sources of personal compensation over the course of calendar year 2007. Those two sources of compensation were: Corrections Corporation of America and the United States Attorney’s Office.

Indeed, according to federal court records, Mark Brnovich, as an assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Arizona, was assigned as a prosecutor on eleven federal criminal cases (involving the prosecution of ten individuals) in the U.S. District Court of Arizona, from September though November of 2007.

In connection with these cases, four individuals served substantial pre-trial detention time (from between several months to a year and a half) in the custody of the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) U.S. Marshals Service (USMS), or in the custody of a “designated representative” thereof.

That’s not good, NOT Tom Horne.

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