Tom Horne's Office Farmed Ethnic Studies Legal Work to Contributors

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Horne's office threw a pricey bone to law firm Burch & Cracchiolo in the MAS affair

As reported in a previous blog, Administrative Law Judge Lewis Kowal recently upheld Arizona Schools' Superintendent John Huppenthal's finding that Tucson Unified School District's Mexican American Studies program violates the state's anti-ethnic studies statute, one drafted and passed with the express intent of eliminating it.

The progenitor of that law is former schools' Superintendent Tom Horne, now Arizona Attorney General. Both Horne and Huppenthal are Republicans who have exploited their war on MAS to win votes. 

However, the fate of the MAS program is ultimately in the hands of federal Judge A. Wallace Tashima, who on December 21 heard oral arguments in a civil rights lawsuit filed by TUSD teachers and students against the Arizona Department of Education. 

The plaintiffs want Tashima to enjoin Huppenthal from killing MAS. ADE wants the suit dismissed. At stake, too, is the constitutionality of the underlying law.

But there's more to the war on MAS than an ideological attack from the right. 

There's also the issue of the relationship between Horne's office and Phoenix law firm Burch & Cracchiolo.

Burch & Cracchiolo's lawyers have so far billed the state a total of $187,526 for work on two ethnic studies cases, the federal suit and the administrative law case Kowal just ruled on.

Coincidentally, campaign finance records show that around 20 B&C attorneys donated a little more than $10,000 to Horne's campaign for Attorney General from 2009 to 2010.

Asked about the donations, AG spokeswoman Amy Rezzonico scoffed at the notion that B&C's work for the AG's office as outside counsel represented anything untoward.

"All prior AG's and County Attorneys have gotten contributions from lawyers who have done work for the state," Rezzonico contended.

Thing is, the AG's office has lawyers aplenty who could have done the work for gratis. 

So why go to outside counsel, and why pick Burch & Cracchiolo?

B&C's billings show that it worked on the federal suit from April till November. AG lawyers took the case back over on November 8. 

On the administrative case that resulted from TUSD's appeal of the Huppenthal decision, B&C attorneys represented the Department of Education from June till October 31.

Total for the administrative case: $116,155.33; for the federal suit, billings amounted to $71,370.79.

Rezzonico described the "referral" to B&C as an "option of the client," the client being the Department of Education. 

"The federal lawsuit logically went with the administrative case," Rezzonico explained. "We obtained outside counsel on the administrative case for reasons we cannot disclose due to lawyer-client confidentiality. The federal case went with it."

Once the administrative case concluded, pending Kowal's decision, Rezzonico said, "There was no reason for us not to handle the federal case ourselves, and that is more economical."

The money to pay outside counsel comes from ADE's budget. ADE spokesman Andrew LeFevre denied that B&C's involvement in the federal lawsuit ended because the ADE had run out of money to pay the firm. 

"There is no issue of ADE being able to pay for its necessary legal services," he told me. 

He described the switch back to the AG's lawyers in November as a "cost-saving measure" engendered by a review, which determined there was "no conflict of interest" in having the AG's office argue the case in federal court.

LeFevre said that the conflict of interest on the administrative case arose from Horne, "ruling the program out of compliance on his last day as Superintendent then moving over to the AG's office."

So, because Horne acted precipitously in his desire to obliterate MAS, the taxpayers get a legal bill for $187,526?

Thanks, Tom.

But just how did Horne's office end up choosing a firm whose lawyers donated $10K to his bid to become AG?

Rezzonico said Burch & Cracchiolo was chosen by a "selection committee" at the AG's office that decides such matters. 

This committee's members include the AG's chief of staff Margaret Dugan, chief counsel for public advocacy Thomas Chenal (ex-husband of Horne's pal Carmen Chenal), and chief deputy Eric Bistrow, Horne's former law partner.

Bistrow, in addition, was once a partner at Burch & Cracchiolo, according to Bistrow's LinkedIn profile. He also contributed to Horne in 2009, while listing B&C as his employer.

When asked why Bistrow didn't recuse himself from the decision, Rezzonico responded that Bistrow is "no longer is part of that firm." 

Well, obviously.

Interestingly, in 2007, the East Valley Tribune reported that then-Superintendent Horne hired Bistrow, an attorney with B&C at the time, to work on a federal case involving students learning English in Arizona schools. By the date of the article's publication, B&C had been paid "more than $415,000 in legal fees."

I should note that lawyers for B&C have also contributed to Democratic causes and candidates. And LeFevre stated that ADE has been "very pleased" with the representation it received from B&C. 

Indeed, at least in the administrative case, you could say the B&C attorneys have been successful, despite the fact that Huppenthal would not have been bound by Kowal's decision if it had gone the other way.

Whether or not the AG's in-house staff could have achieved the same result is another question. 

Certainly, that $187,526 could have paid for a lot of school books, even ones Horne and Huppenthal happen to agree with.

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107 comments
amadeus332
amadeus332

Horne has a farm....a taxpayer Dairy Farm, and he'll milk that teat for all it's worth to feed his election doners...Got Milk! 

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Former Republican
Former Republican

Stephen, We come here to find out what the others in the local media fail to cover -- the unvarnished "truth". Your courageous article rings true since we've seen no changes except more destruction of peoples' rights, their families, education and more taking place in Arizona.

Former Republican
Former Republican

Stephen, We come here to find what the others local media fail to cover -- the unvarnished "truth". Your courageous article rings true since we've seen no changes except more destruction of peoples' rights, their families, education and more taking place in Arizona. 

Former Republican
Former Republican

Please delete this comment which was replaced with corrections. thank you. A "delete" button would be helpful for our typos, etc.

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guest
guest

I'm just glad that we all agree that these parasitic anchor babies need to go.

Anon
Anon

guest, "illegal immigration" is used for $$'s and to distract the people from the ongoing corruption in Arizona.

Tommy Collins
Tommy Collins

What exactly do you mean by parasitic anchor babies? Please define and give a living example of just one.

Not that you have the fortitude, but post under your real name as well.

PTCGAZ
PTCGAZ

I dont think we agreed on that at all. In fact I Think what most of us are saying is that we need to worry about things other then your hate and ignorance.

ExpertShot
ExpertShot

I'm glad to see that you've taken up my suggestion to investigate B&C.  As before, I mentioned that B&C handles quite a few cases wherein the County is trying to "limit the settlements" of lawsuits which involve Sheriff Arpaio's mistreatment and murder of inmates in his care and control.  Oh, and the one that involved the Sheriff Joke impersonator that was arrested ON HALLOWEEN because he had the temerity to mock the Shurf.  He's just another victim of Arpaio but Nick Tarr is my hero!  http://blogs.phoenixnewtimes.c...

Phoenix Justice
Phoenix Justice

This is one of the issues I have with outsourcing of government services: Whoever makes the bigger campaign contributions will get the contracts.

Ortiz1
Ortiz1

 Tom Horns agenda is to undermine education of Hispanics.  He proved this when he tried to stop families in the Nogales area from funding private classes outside the school system.

Tommy Collins
Tommy Collins

I have to admit there aren't many people I haven't met who I just don't like based on their pictures and whatever I know of them from media reports.

Horne is the exception. Along with the Flaccid Fool of MCSO. Although I was within twenty feet of the FF at a gathering in the park of folks there to show support for the disgraced former senate president, I didn't bother to introduce myself for fear he might have extended his hand in greeting. No way I could shake his hand.

Anyway, Horne strikes me as being just really borderline something bordering on something. I look at his picture and don't want to have to look at it again, for some unknown reason.

I met Felicia Rotellini when she ran against Horne and she was genuinely refreshing by comparison.

This guy, Horne, just exudes some compound that makes me uneasy.....

FuckMCSO
FuckMCSO

Yea Tommy, like he can't be trusted.

Gwmwllc
Gwmwllc

MAJOR NEWSBREAK: When will this occupation of the US by illegals end?Ask a Mexican when he / she will end their occupation of the US and return to Mexico.

Gray Race
Gray Race

When your wife stop blowing the neighborhood landscaper.

The Lou Show
The Lou Show

MAJOR REVELATION:  GWMWLLC CONVINCED UNDOCUMENTED THE SOURCE OF ALL US ILLS

The 'illegals" are the least of our problems.  Those without papers constitute such a small minority, compared to the population of documented citizens.  You have been fooled, Gwmllc.  You have been fooled by fear and misinformation.  You have been fooled into supporting policies that put money into the pockets of the Corrections Corporation of America, the CCA.

Our Arizona legislature needs to tackle the problems of unemployment, housing, education, and energy . . . not repeat the same type of legislative attempts that make Pearce obsolete.

You are not only a minority, you are easily fooled, Fool.

Tommy Collins
Tommy Collins

It will only end with comprehensive immigration reform. And then only if our border is secured as well as possible and federal enforcement efforts continue as they are today. I will ask my Canadian friend who has overstayed her work visa if she is going to end her occupation and return to Mexico, if that will make you feel better.

Did you know that the majority of 'illegals' in the United States did NOT cross into the country illegally, rather they have overstayed their legal visas?

I bet the MCSO shurf isn't sharing that one with you, is he?

PTCGAZ
PTCGAZ

Tommy I have brought up this point before and most of the people say I was lying, or making things up, or an illegal immigrant myself, when last time I checked the State of Ohio was still in the US in 1978 the year I was born. (and still is today)

ExpertShot
ExpertShot

People like GWMWLLC above do not understand logic Tommy.  They only understand hate.  That's why Horne got elected and why Arpaio got elected.  There are many humans who have a genetic predisposition to hate others who are not like them.  This is not a choice (it is a choice to overcome that genetic predeliction though).  Horne, Arpario and others know this fact and they know that only a small excuse is needed to allow that prediliction to come to the fore in ANY human's personality.  It's the mob mentality thing.  Apario and Horne and others have basically "given permission" to these humans to act out their fight or flight tendencies and exhibit racism or bigotry or whatever.  They give that emotion flight by allowing them to vote for people they think are going to "get" those who they perceive as different.  Without Horne, Arpaio and others to give voice to their bigotry, people like GWMWLLC would be just another disconnected looney old coot, loved by their family but shunned by the rest of us who can control our inappropriate genetic urges.

Jason
Jason

The MCSO shurf is running scared Tommy.

What with the MCSO being accused of the most egregious racial-profiling case in American history, and the criminal abuse-of-power investigation resulting in indictments, the Old Fool has plenty reason to be scared.

 

FuckMCSO
FuckMCSO

 What an honor, huh... >>MCSO being accused of the most egregious racial-profiling case in American history

Tommy Collins
Tommy Collins

Isn't it ironic that the last of "11" is the 1,111th day of the federal investigation of the Flaccid Fool?

Imagine, taking 1,111 days to conduct a criminal investigation.

I think that's called a marathon.

Sassmando
Sassmando

I'm sick and tired of hearing in newtimes about the abuse and neglect of illegal mexicans in the united states please tell me what other countries can you go to illegally find a place to live, a job, healthcare, get financial assistance if you have a child any other country the child would be illegal also but not america . They take our identitys , use our credit ruining it, you american names and social security numbers to get jobs credit homes cars what about the poor citizens credit and life is ruined we feel sorry for them? Why can't we go to do with the correct way if they don't send them home. If the mexican government would try to build up their own country maybe some people would stay there. Simple plane truth illegal has no more rights freedom civil liberties or any other kind of constitutional rights then any other citzen in any other country would have. I personally wish the new times staff would publish their personal I d information for illegal to use as needed to stay in the country if we have gone to russia illegally sitting in jail . And more states are comming up with their versions of sb 1070 popping up in a different stateS show all of america is tired of the illegals

DPSnAZ
DPSnAZ

I freely admit I have a hard time following your train of thought, not to mention the content.

Tommy Collins
Tommy Collins

I would translate, but I don't know that dialect... sorry..

PTCGAZ
PTCGAZ

I would try and translate it but, "I don't think that dumb."

GreenHornet
GreenHornet

Put the illegal immigrant issue aside for a moment and focus on the fact that Horne gave $187.5K in legal work to people who contributed to him when lawyers you and I already pay for at the attorney gen's office could do the work.

Is that OK with you? How about you, Bobby?

Bobby
Bobby

No, it's not O.K. In fact, this crap happens constantly in government. States across the U.S. are turning some highways that were paid for a long time ago, into toll roads, and making people pay again. Mind you, this is beside the fact that Americans already get charged to maintain roads from DMV and other fees. But why is it you always want to put aside the illegal immigration issue, which costs American taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars, while focusing on much less serious things? By the way, it's Jan. 1, 2012. A new year.  I know that we have insulted each other and fought about certain issues like crazy for the last few days, but going to neutral,and from another angle, I'd like to wish you the best in the future, regardless of our wide differences--Sincerely, Bobby.

PTCGAZ
PTCGAZ

illegal immigration has NOTHING to do at all with this issue of cronyism of republicans in the state of AZ. ITS RAMPANT. Why do you think the asshats try and hold on with their nails to keep their seats every year?

Bobby
Bobby

Yes, they are. They, the American citizens, are tired. You can read it in thousands, NO, millions of blogs across every state in this nation. But some people just keep denying it. Must be fun to be given so many things free, jobs, food, money, education, and still bitch. Mexico would simply do away with most of you. Come to think of it, it does.

PTCGAZ
PTCGAZ

just because you idiots right it doesn't mean  it's true.

Tommy Collins
Tommy Collins

["Why can't we go to do with the correct way if they don't send them home"]

That sentence, in and of its self, establishes the level of credibility we need to give to your post.

Gerry_C
Gerry_C

Jan Brewer writing that Tommy?

Rick
Rick

With all the talk about elected officials referring state business to financial contributors and lawyers making decisions benefiting former employers , it is hard to tell whether this is a case of political prostitution or lawyer incest.

DPSnAZ
DPSnAZ

Very good observation, Rick, and well said!

Linda Haynes
Linda Haynes

Horne is a idiot & needs to get out of the dark ages

PTCGAZ
PTCGAZ

his daughter is even a bigger idiot. Her Daddy had to bail her out of her failing the Aims test twice.

DPSnAZ
DPSnAZ

What a post! You, Sir, have my highest respect !

Follower_of_the_ONE
Follower_of_the_ONE

  Is this the same group of conservative thumpers who support religious studies in the public school system?  How is it that if history doesn't  fit a group's agenda they feel they have the right to rewrite it?  Personally I would like to review the studies, as I'm sure many others would, only out of curiousity... if it paints the white man in a less than favorable light ... well it could very well be deserved. 

  We should really come to terms with our history, the last 200 hundred years history has been viewed and taught from one perspective.  This country has become a melting pot of cultures and skin pigmentations.  Each culture historically has staked its claim in towns, neighborhoods etc, often in conflict with each other ... That is the pride of heritage, the bloodlines represented.... so to teach and view from one perspective is ludicrus.  Hell I find it hilarious that after, what 520 years, the word "INDIAN" is still applied to Native Americans and just how offended people were when "Squaw Peak" was renamed after a female Native American warrior who died in a war started by those same narrow minded, greedy, empire building white folks.

  Over and over Native American prophesy states that the Native Americans will see the white man come and go (the United States [of America]).  The reason?  The white man does not know how to live on Mother Earth.  All you have to do is take in a breath of foul Phx air to understand the truth in that statement.  Another Native American Shaman stated that after Mother Earth renews herself..."We will sure miss our white brothers".  Those white brothers include the likes of Tom Horne, Joe Arpiao, Russell Pearce, Jan Brewer and any of the other many individuals, the destroyers.

Former Republican
Former Republican

Your comment is well said. Arizona is run by "destroyers", those who "rule", like tyrants, rather than lead. They've run Arizona and its people into the ground but the public is finally had enough and ousted the defacto governor -- Russell Pearce. Arizona deserves better than those they elected to "serve" them. They are not doing their jobs and are not "serving" the people. Time to find real leaders.

Hrobster
Hrobster

"The white man does not know how to live on mother earth"

Now there's a stand alone comment that illustrates the dumbness, and jealousy so common in the third world towards the "white man". Indian shamans not withstanding.

As Rene Descarte, one of the fathers of modern science said four hundred years ago,

The common man would rather believe in magicians, astrology, and every type of confused philosophical speculation, rather than believe in one clear and simple fact that can be demonstrated to him.

It's clear, that out of your extreme hate and jealousy you would like the "white man"(and woman) DEAD, but it isn't going to happen. Dream on Amigo.

Follower_of_the_ONE
Follower_of_the_ONE

Well we all do have our beliefs don't we Bobby... "Not even a stupid dog shits where it sleeps".  You're right though, man proves that fact daily in his destruction of the ground he walks on, the water he drinks and the air he breaths.  The destruction is not confined to the white man.  How fucking stupid is that Bobby?

Bobby
Bobby

So, tell me. Why aren't you leading the charge against those greedy empire building "white folks"? Giving up driving polluting cars would be a start. Do you have one? How about eating at fast food joints, where the beef in the food could be a mixture of a hundred different cows, from as many countries. Have you been to a ninety nine cent store and bought something? Shame on you if you have, it's only going to wind up in an environment destroying landfill. I'd take your views and those of the so-called Progressive Left, into more serious consideration, if you people ever practiced what you preach. But I doubt you'll give a up driving your care, eating at Mc-wherever, or doing to the communist China supporting dollar store..

Jason
Jason

This entire episode reeks of conflict of interest.

Horne knew that the law firm assisting him in the destruction of MAS had a conflict, but retained them anyway knowing full well the conflict existed.

In exchange, the law firm and the lawyers who work there contributed $10,000+ to Horne's campaign for state Attorney General, knowing the conflict existed.

I think the federal lawsuit needs to continue, but not at taxpayer expense. In the end, I think MAS will stay.

DPSnAZ
DPSnAZ

Isn't it ironic that we have an elected AG in Arizona who years ago was banned for life from doing any business under the rules of the SEC. And the ban still stands! And the man is the Attorney General of the State of Arizona! Do we really deserve that?

PTCGAZ
PTCGAZ

was Tom Horne ever disbarred?

wherewasi
wherewasi

It could have been worse, I guess.  We could have gotten Candy Andy...

Jason
Jason

Candy Andy will be disbarred following the info I sent to the DOJ....

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