The Administrative Law Judge who presided over the illegal coordination campaign finance trial of Tom “banned for Life by the SEC” Horne and Kathleen Winn is due to announce her decision on Monday. Will Tommy Boy get spanked by the Court?
The Arizona Capitol Times (subscription required) reports Judge’s ruling in AG Tom Horne case due this week:
An administrative law judge is expected to issue a ruling early next week on whether there’s enough evidence to conclude Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne illegally coordinated campaign spending with an aide running an independent group during his 2010 campaign.
Yavapai County prosecutors say they showed during a civil hearing in February that Horne and aide Kathleen Winn broke campaign-finance law by working together on outside ads targeting Horne’s Democratic opponent in the weeks before the November 2010 election won by the Republican attorney general. They want Horne to repay $400,000 to donors and up to three times that amount in civil fines.
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Judge Tammy Eigenheer of the Arizona Office of Administrative Hearings oversaw three days of testimony in February. Attorneys had expected her ruling Thursday, but she has now set the deadline for Monday.
The decision will likely not be the end of the case, however, because Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk can accept or reject her findings and impose sanctions herself. Polk determined in October that Horne violated the law and ordered the repayments and the filing of amended campaign-finance reports.
Horne and Winn could appeal any decision, dragging any final conclusion into the election season, where Horne faces a challenger in August’s Republican primary as he seeks a second term. If he wins the primary, he’ll likely face the same Democrat he narrowly defeated in 2010, Felecia Rotellini, a former prosecutor and bank regulator.
Horne’s GOP primary opponent, Mark “I’d like to buy a vowel” Brnovich, could benefit from Tommy Boy’s legal and ethical troubles in the GOP primary. Democratic candidate Felecia Rotellini, who narrowly lost to Horne four years ago, stands to benefit the most from buyer’s remorse in a rematch.
So Tommy Boy’s allies in the Arizona legislature are trying to lend him a helping hand. Amendment could blur campaign lines:
The wall between members of an independent expenditure committee and candidate campaigns could get lower under a proposal likely to go before the state House of Representatives this week.
The last-minute amendment to Senate Bill 1344 would allow certain members of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry to participate in a candidate campaign, even if the chamber is running an independent-expenditure committee that is involved in the same campaign. It would apply not only to the state chamber, but to all trade associations organized as 501(c)(6)s under the Internal Revenue Service code.
State law prohibits coordination between independent expenditure committees, often referred to as “IEs,” and candidate campaigns.
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[T]he Arizona Advocacy Network says the chamber’s proposal would invite more money into campaigns and blur disclosure of where the money is coming from.
“They already have PACs buying influence with $10,000 checks to candidates and are believed to already fund dark money campaigns, ” the network’s director, Sam Wercinski, said in an alert sent to members of the group, which promotes transparency in elections, among other things.
The network is urging lawmakers to reject the amendment if it is introduced next week, during what is expected to be the final days of the legislative session.
Wercinski said the amendment would be a step toward legalizing the behavior that Attorney General Tom Horne is accused of during his 2010 campaign: coordinating the actions of an IE with his own campaign.
But Langhofer said the amendment includes restrictions on who would be allowed to be involved in a campaign, even if his or her trade association is involved in an IE. For example, the group would have to have a written policy that would clearly state that a member could not participate in any decisions involving an IE if he or she got involved with a candidate campaign.
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Wercinski speculated the amendment was written to benefit GOP gubernatorial candidate Doug Ducey, who has had chamber backing.
But Langhofer said that’s not the case, reading a statement from the group.
“We will not be playing in the governor’s race,” he said.
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Rep. J.D. Mesnard, R-Chandler, said he will likely introduce the amendment when SB 1344 comes up for House debate. The issue has not been set on the House calendar.
The underlying bill attempts to remove the Citizens Clean Elections Commission from oversight of any campaign complaints involving privately funded candidates.
The commission asserts it has the authority to enforce campaign law for both privately funded candidates and those who run with the public financing overseen by the commission. The bill has already passed the Senate, moving ahead on a party-line vote, with Republicans in support and Democrats opposed.
The public wants “dark money” out of politics, and more transparency and disclosure. The GOP doesn’t care what the public wants.
Hopefully the voters have had enough of Tom “banned for life by the SEC” Horne’s embarrassing unethical behavior in office. It is unacceptable and should not be tolerated.