Tom Horne Suit Against Child-Porn Attack Ad Fails, Secretary of State Refers Matter To AG's Office

The anti-Horne ad causing all the hubbub, currently in heavy rotation

On Wednesday, a Maricopa County Superior Court Judge denied Republican state attorney general candidate Tom Horne's request for a restraining order against a controversial attack ad now running against him.

The ad, which is paid for by the DC-based "Committee for Justice and Fairness," calls into question Horne's vote as a legislator not to increase penalties against statutory rape, and it claims Horne voted to re-certify a teacher who had (according to the ad) watched kiddie porn on a classroom computer.

Horne alleged in his complaint that the Committee for Justice and Fairness, an independent "527" group, is not registered with the Arizona Secretary of State, and that it's fronting for another group, the Democratic Attorneys Generals Association, which is not disclosed in the ad.

Judge Linda Miles didn't rule on whether or not the ad broke state law. In her minute entry, she explains that state campaign finance statutes do not allow her to grant the injunctive relief sought by Horne.

However, the Secretary of State's office says there is probable cause to believe Horne's allegations that the CJF broke the law. SOS spokesman Matt Benson told me the SOS has forwarded the case to the Arizona Attorney General's Office. 

When I asked her about it for a previous blog post, Horne's Democratic rival Felecia Rotellini insisted she knew nothing of the ad until she saw it on Television. But her campaign clearly took delight in Horne's courtroom loss, calling Horne's legal action an "anti-free speech suit" and claiming he was attempting to muzzle his critics.

"Horne sued in a desperate bid to silence the Committee for Justice and Fairness," states a press release on Rotellini's Web site,"which has brought to light decisions of Horne's that show his true character, including allowing a teacher who was fired for viewing pornography in school back into the classroom."

The latter part of that statement is apparently true, as the teacher in question, Joseph Richardson, admitted to viewing explicit images on a school computer. According to a 2006 article in the East Valley Tribune, Richardson resigned his position at Queen Creek High School in 2002 after his students turned him in for looking at porn on a class computer.

In 2006, the state Board of Education voted 6-5 to reinstate his teaching certificate. In the minutes of the BOE meeting, Horne -- who is the state school's superintendent -- defers to the recommendation of the professional practices committee, and votes to give Richardson his certification.

Viewing porn on a class computer seems bad enough, but did Richardson view kiddie porn as the CJF ad states?

When I first spoke to Horne about the ad, he told me that a police report of the incident showed that there was no kiddie porn on the computer. Horne repeated this statement in his suit, saying, "While untruth is not a basis for this legal action, I point out that this advertisement is a big lie."

Horne e-mailed me a copy of what appears to be a sheriff's office report of the investigation, which you can view, here.

"I found several adult images contained within the allocated files on the hard drive," states the MCSO detective in the report, "but did not find images depicting child pornography." 

But in the minutes of Richardson's hearing, the teacher seems to admit viewing something inappropriate involving minors.

Check this quote from the minutes:

"Mr. Richardson added regarding the more severe finding was [sic] the fact that he looked at pictures of minors, various things that were sexually oriented with minors but that this was because of curiosity and not because he had a special interest in those areas, but that his curiosity was strong at that point. He added that he is disgusted with his actions and thoughts that he had at that time."

Which leads one to believe that this Richardson guy had some serious issues, to say the least.

Regarding the statutory rape stuff, as I mentioned in my previous blog post on this subject,  several Democratic lawmakers voted against the bill in question, as did Horne, who was in the state House at the time. HB 2587 would have upped sex with a minor 15 or over from a class six felony to a class four felony. If the perp was five years older than the teen, it would have been classified a class two felony. 

The CJF ad uses this vote, Horne's BOE vote on Richardson, and stock footage of kids to create the impression that Horne is basically pro-statutory rape, pro-child pornography, and so on. And it places Horne in a position where he has to declare he's not those things. Classic negative advertising. 

In a close race, which everyone expects the Horne-Rotellini contest to be, such an ad could prove quite effective. I don't think you can say that it's fair to Horne, who I like on a personal level, regardless of the fact that I strongly disagree with him on immigration and ethnic studies. But then, as with love and war, there's not much that's "fair" in politics.


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11 comments
Arizona's Politics
Arizona's Politics

Dennis, you're right: Secret billionaires are making a mockery of our system and driving double trailers through the Citizens United hole. The reason that "this silly ad" - which sticks out for the sleaziness factor - "sticks out" is that Democratic Attorneys General - sworn to enforcing election laws, fer cryin' out loud - are pulling the same shit that you are upset about. We DO NOT KNOW what corporations/groups/individuals are funding it. (But, at least the GOP secret groups are abiding by the federal and state laws as they currently exist.) In sum, it's the sleaziness, it's the irony, it's... it's... it's THE LAW!

Education Counts!
Education Counts!

Tom Horne has one single problem at this point in time regardless of the attack Ads, or his securities fraud. It is FAILED PUBLIC SCHOOLS IN AZ! As soon as I mention to anyone that he was Superintendent of Public Education in AZ for the past 8 years they are immediately put off! Rottellini is a very capable and competent candidate. I am very confident that she is going to be the new AG of AZ! I'm sure one of Tom's Republican buddies will hire him to help "kill time" before he reinvents himself and runs for some other position. He is like a STD - just cannot get rid of 'em!

Ohohmrbill
Ohohmrbill

Tom Horne accepts bribes in order not to enforce his own law of Banning Ethnic Studies and auditing teachers with thick accents who teach in public schools. Under the no child left behind act Tom Horn has Audited American citizens (teachers) within TUSD and had them removed from classrooms. Also under his own law of banning Ethnic Studies programs in Arizona Tom Horne has turned a blind eye to Sonaran Science Academy who promotes Turkish nationalism through language studies, Turkish dance clubs, Turkish Art classes and a Turkish club for both parents and students. Sonoran Science Academy is a public charter and is not exempt to the law. Numerous complaints have gone to the The Arizona State Board of Charter Schools which Sonoran Science Academy sits on the Board of Directors. Which is one way they protect themselves from complaints, and complaints to the Board of Education has also been submitted. Not to mention letters and emails written to Tom Horne about this school. So why would a school donate campaign funds to the one person that could effect the staffing and moral of there school? I guess one can buy a little protection from the wrath of Tom Horne.

Contributions to Tom Horne's campaign for Attorney General

$808 Jan 4, 2010 Fatih Karatas (Principal, Sonoran Science Academy; Associate Superintendent, Daisy Education Corporation)

$808 Feb 3, 2010 Mehmet Argin (Former Principal, Sonoran Science Academy; Superintendent, Daisy Education Corporation)

$808 Feb 5, 2010 Ridvan Bircicek (Sonoran Science Academy, Paragon Science Academy)

$400 Oct 3, 2010 Turkan Argin (wife of Mehmet Argin)

Arizona's Politics
Arizona's Politics

Mr. Gilman, you can say or do whatever you want to, but I don't think we should condone (or, look away) while the Democratic Attorneys General Association does whatever it wants to do to fuck Horne. This ad stinks, the attitude of the CFJF/DAGA stinks, and the attitude of the Democratic nominee stinks. And, the Bird would stink, too, if he just stuck his beak into the desert sand simply because most of the corporate money has gone to sliming Democrats. BTW, we don't know where the DAGA is getting its money for this ad, either. Hell, it could be coming from some of the same corporations. (And, for cryin' out loud, this is an association of attorneys general flouting the campaign laws.) I, for one, am glad to see FB pecking away at this sordid story!

Arizona's Politics
Arizona's Politics

Thank YOU, Stephen and the New Times, for pursuing this building story!

Interestingly, the fact that the Secretary of State's Office has (predictably) referred this to the Attorney General's Office, leads to an interesting irony just before the election. (Our most recent post on the matter: http://bit.ly/ci3pxy)

Our AG is (1) a member of the Democratic Attorneys General Association, the alleged offender; and (2) running for Governor next week.

Best bet: the Attorney General's Office is going to have to study this for at least a week. Alternative: AG's Office refers it to an independent prosecutor this week, but no action taken until after election.

Note: the prosecutor - either AG or a referred-to prosecutor - has THE DISCRETION as to whether or not to give the CFJF/DAGA 20 days to comply with statutes. If not complied, they must assess the penalty. The penalty could be 3 times the amount spent.

Dennis Gilman
Dennis Gilman

Just in case I didn't make myself perfectly clear in the previous post- FUCK HORNE!

He should be the one sued for the lies he told about ethnic studies.

Dennis Gilman
Dennis Gilman

Fuck Horne. He's a racist criminal. He's been in trouble with the law, banned from trading..etc...Who gives a shit about this ad? Why so much focus on it when private money has filled the television and air waves due to CItizens United spreading constant lies about Democrats? Are you writing for FOX News now Bird? Whats next? The ACORN Scandal that never was? PBS firing Uncle Juan Williams so we should close them down?

Again I say FUCK HORNE.

Truth08
Truth08

I agree Lemons..

"as with love and war, there's not much that's "fair" in politics."

Horne (the Russel Pearce of the educational system) , and his anti-Hispanic movement, just got SMACKED back!! Ha!!

Rotellini, will hopefully come out victorious Tues!!

Regards,Truth

Dennis Gilman
Dennis Gilman

Have you watched any tv lately? This ad is sofcore compared to what secret billionares are paying for to discredit the Dems. Why is this silly ad getting so much attention? I honestly don't even think it sticks out.

Truth08
Truth08

Just fyi Dennis, he is being sued by Atty Richard Martinez, from Tucson, and he is repenting the TUSD, in relations to the 'ethnic studies' Tom Horne ban.

Regards,Truth

KarlG
KarlG

the irony is the committee for justice and fairness benefits from the citizens united ruling. lemons points out this is a 527. 527s can spend as much as they want because of citizens united.

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