Tom Horne and Kathleen Winn Broke the Law, Must Pay Back $397K or Face Triple Fine
How bad would things have to get for Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne to do the right thing and resign?
You'd think pleading no contest to a vehicular hit-and-run witnessed by two FBI agents who'd been tailing him would be enough, at least for the state's top prosecutor.
Then there's the near-universal knowledge that Horne hired his alleged mistress Carmen Chenal for a $108K-a-year job at the AG's Office, ordered an agency-wide investigation to plug assumed leaks about that affair, and allegedly discussed a cover-up that would have involved destruction of public records and obstruction of justice.
Alleged witness tampering came later, after the FBI probe began.
And now, for the second time, an Arizona county attorney has found that Horne and his political ally-turned-AG outreach director Kathleen Winn, violated state campaign finance law, coordinating Horne's 2010 campaign for attorney general with Winn's supposedly "independent" expenditure committee Business Leaders for Arizona.
Horne and Winn (first on right): Facing more than $1 million in fines . . .
On Thursday, Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk -- whose reputation as a prosecutor is sterling -- concluded her examination of the Horne-Winn case, which arrived on her desk via a long and winding road, meandering through the Secretary of State's Office to County Attorney Bill Montgomery to an administrative law judge, on to superior court, back to the SOS, then to the Solicitor General (who works for the AG), and finally to Polk.
In her order of compliance, Polk finds that "BLA and Winn coordinated their activities with Horne and the Horne campaign" as a means to an end: defeating Horne's Democratic opponent in the general election. And this coordination "resulted in violations of Arizona campaign finance law."
Basically, Polk says that Winn -- now outreach director for the AG -- was taking orders from Horne while pretending to be an independent player. Meanwhile, BLA and the Horne campaign were one and the same.
So, individual donations to BLA that exceeded state contribution limits for candidates were illegal. Ditto corporate contributions, as candidates cannot accept contributions from corporations, according to state law.
Of the more than $500,000 raised by the BLA, Polk orders Winn and Horne to refund $397,378 in the next 20 days or face a possible civil penalty of three times the amount, which would be more than $1 million.