Tom Horne's Snakepit, Bill Montgomery's Dirty Money, and the Problem with Carmen Chenal
There'll be no Camelot on West Washington Street for Horne and his underlings. Not so much because of the alleged coordinatin', but because in March Horne hit a parked car and didn't leave a note, with his Cubana gal-pal along for the ride.
Hardly Chappaquiddick, but it is one of those things people expect an Attorney General not to do; i.e., a vehicular hit-and-run with your alleged mistress in the passenger seat, after doing a car switcheroo.
No wonder that on last night's Fox 10 newscast, Horne declined to discuss his relationship with Chenal and would rather field questions concerning campaign finance.
"That's really off topic," the AG told a Fox 10 reporter. "I'm happy to talk about the independent campaign, and happy to answer any questions about that."
Of course he would. Because the AG knows, as does everyone in politics these days, that the Chinese wall that's supposed to exist between an IE and a candidate is made of Swiss cheese not concrete.
Remember when Steven Colbert of The Colbert Report let The Daily Show's Jon Stewart run his SuperPAC, as they promised viewers that there would be no coordinatin' between Steven Colbert and the Steven Colbert SuperPAC?
See, any fuss over "coordination" is, alas, a joke, a joke on a massive, national level, and fodder for comedy writers everywhere.
Slowly, painfully, my colleagues in the local press corps are beginning to see beyond their campaign finance geekery and understand the scandal for what it is: a sordid tale of a powerful politician who over several years rewarded his alleged mistress with high-paying jobs for which she is not qualified.
As Arizona Republic scribe Yvonne Wingett-Sanchez realized (at last) in a 315-word sidebar yesterday:
"It may not be a campaign-finance allegation that Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne is remembered for. It might be the March 27 hit-and-run fender-bender he was involved in while driving with a female employee to her home..."
If so, why did Yvonne's editors limit her to 315 words and ignore the obvious implications of why Horne was sneaking around with Chenal while wearing a baseball cap?
Eventually, I suspect this town's journos -- assuming they care about this scandal in a week -- may end up asking the same questions I did more than a year ago when I wrote the column that prompted the AG to order an investigation to plug a leak that eventually roped in the FBI, which assigned agents to follow him around while he hooked up with Chenal for alleged nooners.
Which raises the interesting question of why FBI agents were doing this when their investigation was supposed to be about alleged campaign finance shenanigans that took place two years ago.
Horne having an affair with Chenal might not be that big of a deal if she didn't work for him and hadn't been hired to be an Assistant Attorney General in the AG's criminal division at a six figure salary despite her having been suspended previously by the state bar and despite her having no experience in criminal law.
Will the local media finally start asking questions about all the issues raised by that impropriety?
Perhaps. Give them time. There's also the more serious issue of Horne apparently asking if documents related to AG investigator Meg Hinchey's probe could be destroyed, er, legally.
Jim Keppel, who was in charge of the criminal division at the time, told the AG that, no, those docs could not be destroyed.
Keppel later resigned from his post over this hooh-hah.
Obstruction of justice is just one criminal violation Monty or the U.S. Attorney could pursue, if they cared. But they don't, any more than they care about Arpaio's criminal misdeeds.
Welcome to Arizona, people, where corruption is more plentiful than cactus. And justice is taking a permanent siesta.
One last note: At Monday's presser, Monty claimed he has no interest in running for Governor or AG in 2014 and that newshounds can call him out on that if he changes his mind.
Somehow, I think if that's the only thing standing between Monty and higher office, he'll be able to live with the challenge to his credibility.