Tom Horne and Kathleen Winn Broke the Law, Must Pay Back $397K or Face Triple Fine
Polk's contempt for Horne and Winn's activities is palpable at times. Using the well-worn record against them, Polk refers to phone records and e-mails revealed in the FBI's investigative file, which was made public in 2012 after the U.S. Attorney's Office declined to prosecute.
One set of records concerns conversations between Winn and Horne and messages e-mailed between Winn and campaign consultant Brian Murray. This as Murray and Winn were creating a TV ad attacking Rotellini, an ad financed by Winn's BLA.
You can read the details for yourself in Polk's order, but Polk concludes that when Winn referred to "we" in her e-mails to Murray, Winn meant herself and Horne, with whom she was constantly on and off the phone, in between e-mailing Murray.
In one e-mail, Winn told Murray that she had several "masters" to please.
"The reasonable conclusion," Polk states, "is that at least one of Winn's 'masters' was Horne."
Polk believes that Winn was Horne's go-between, relaying messages from Horne to Murray about the specifics of the advertisement.
[D]uring her email exchanges with Murray, Winn admitted that she had 'several masters,' that 'we' have problems, and that 'they' don't like the script. Winn almost always consulted with Horne prior to instructing Murray. When a decision was finally made, Winn stated she 'prevailed.' The notion that she 'prevailed' means that she had to persuade someone to her point of view, which in turn means someone else was making final decisions regarding the [ad's] script.
The only other person Winn spoke with during that time who could have contributed to the advertisement was Horne. No other conclusion can be drawn other than Horne himself was the final authority approving the political content of the anti-Rotellini advertisement purchased by BLA. Winn's primary contribution was to convey Horne's decisions to Murray. the records reflect that Winn and Horne coordinated their efforts on the anti-Rotellini advertisement because Horne was in fact in control of the content of BLA's anti-Rotellini advertisement.
Polk deftly uses Occam's razor to slice to the simplest explanation, the only one that makes any real sense: that Winn and Horne coordinated their activities.
To this end, the county attorney references an e-mail from Horne to Winn, which Winn dutifully sent to Murray, conveying a message from a pollster. Horne was using the info in an apparent attempt to pry more cash out of the Republican State Leadership Committee, which already had dumped $350K into BLA's kitty.
All of this is damning and, to be truthful, info that's been pored over, waded through, and regurgitated numerous times by reporters and investigators.
And yet, Horne continues to slither away from any responsibility for his actions. Nailing pudding to a park bench would be easier.
Will Horne use another of his nine lives to outlive Polk's order? His lawyer just happens to be the great Michael Kimerer, the attorney who sprang Debra Milke from death row, at least for the time being. So anything is possible.
Particularly for a politician in Arizona, where corruption is as common and as apt to be ignored as paloverde trees.