The Arizona Secretary of State’s office issued a “reasonable cause” letter that Tommy Boy violated campaign finance laws through illegal coordination with an independent expenditure committee, and the matter has been referred to the solicitor general at the Attorney General’s office. The matter must be referred to outside counsel under conflict of interest rules. Tommy Boy is also now under investigation by the Maricopa County Attorney’s office.
The Arizona Republic reports, Secretary of State: Horne probe merited:
Elections officials have concluded it is likely Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne violated campaign-finance laws and say the allegations of wrongdoing by a former employee warrant further investigation.
The Secretary of State’s Office determined Horne failed to report as in-kind campaign contributions the time Attorney General’s Office employees spent working on his reelection campaign.
The Secretary of State’s Office reviewed the accusations, submitted May 12 by Sarah Beattie, and Horne’s subsequent response. Beattie alleged the Attorney General’s Office has doubled as Horne’s campaign headquarters, with top staff working on state time to raise money for Horne’s re-election, plan campaign events and discuss talking points to deploy against his challengers.
After completing their analysis, elections officials forwarded a reasonable cause letter Wednesday morning to Solicitor General Robert Ellman informing him their findings.
Ellman reports to Horne, but since Horne is a target of the probe the attorney general is not informed of developments in the investigation.
Stephanie Grisham, speaking on behalf of the Solicitor General’s Office said Ellman will now select an outside entity to examine Beattie’s allegations.
“Because of a clear conflict of interest, the Attorney General and Executive staff have been walled off from any decisions as to who will be leading the investigation due to the Reasonable Cause Letter issued by the Secretary of State,” Grisham said in a written statement. “No one in the Executive Office has knowledge or input into the agency or firm that will be tasked with this investigation.”
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It is unclear who Ellman will select to oversee an investigation of Horne. Typically, a law enforcement agency is selected.
The new inquiry comes as Horne is in a fight for his political career, facing primary challenger Mark Brnovich for the Republican Party’s nomination, and just three weeks before early ballots will arrive in voters’ mailboxes.
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Beattie’s attorney, Tom Ryan, gave the binder to the FBI, which also interviewed Beattie. That notebook has been given to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, which will not confirm or deny that it is separately investigating Beattie’s allegations. [Has been confirmed, see below.] A top county investigator attended a recent Clean Elections Commission meeting, where the commission discussed and voted to move forward with an investigation of its own into Horne and staff.
Horne is challenging the commission’s authority to investigate him; a court hearing is set for Friday.
Separately, Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk is pursuing another campaign-finance case against Horne, stemming from Horne’s 2010 run for office.
An administrative judge earlier this year concluded there was not enough evidence to prove Horne illegally coordinated with an independent expenditure committee during the race.
I would argue that the Secretary of State’s reasonable cause letter undermines what I thought was a wrongly decided opinion by the administrative judge earlier this year. Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk is now on solid ground.
The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office has confirmed it is separately investigating Beattie’s allegations. Horne now under investigation by county attorney:
Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne is being investigated by the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, The Arizona Republic has learned.
Attorney Tom Ryan, who represents former Horne staffer Sarah Beattie, said detectives have been assigned to investigate his client’s allegations that Horne used state employees and resources on his reelection campaign.
A law enforcement official also confirmed the county is investigating Horne.
Ryan said the inquiry began in mid-June, that investigators have interviewed Beattie multiple times as part of the probe and that she has provided them with text messages and other records. Beattie’s most recent contact with detectives was this week, Ryan said.
The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office does not confirm or deny the existence of investigations and the precise statues they are focusing on in the investigation is unclear. Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery, who recently called for Horne to resign, has said he would be screened off from any allegations involving Horne that may arrive at his office.
Since Tommy Boy will not resign and will go down with the ship, the Arizona Republic editorializes today, Voters, it’s up to you to bounce Tom Horne: “That seems to be the state’s best hope for ending this tawdry mess.”
Arizona voters need to turn out en masse to vote, and kick the corrupt Tom Horne to the curb.