Tom Horne's Latest Defeat: Campaign Complaint Against His Critics Denied
State elections director Christina Estes-Werther agreed with Langhofer's argument, finding in a letter to Slaton dated December 9, that Langhofer had refuted Slaton's allegations.
"There is no evidence that AZPIA is a political committee," stated Estes-Werther, adding, "We find that AZPIA is not subject to registration and disclosure requirements...and there is insufficient basis to find reasonable cause that AZPIA violated campaign finance laws."
Since the beginning of November, AZPIA has been running TV ads and sending out mailers targeting Horne's ethical lapses.
The ads encourage viewers to call Horne and tell him to give back the $400,000 that two Republican county attorneys have said was illegally used to help Horne in the 2010 general election.
Horne responded with the SLAPP suit, claiming he was defamed by the group because the ad initially made an error, stating that Horne is currently under investigation by the FBI, when that investigation has been past tense for more than a year now.
AZPIA corrected the ad, and made a very mild apology for the slip-up. The group has continued to run the corrected ad. According to AZPIA, the ad buy completed its initial run the first week in December, and there will be more to come, AZPIA promised.
AZPIA Executive Vice President Tyler Montague decried Horne's bumbling legal maneuvers and the AG's attempt to intimidate his critics.
"It seems like Horne is using the power of his office to attack his critics," Montague told me. "That makes Horne one mole-stache and a Messiah complex away from being the new Andrew Thomas."
Elections law expert Tom Ryan, who offered to defend AZPIA against the SLAPP suit for free -- thereby scaring Horne into a quick retreat -- had some Christmas-time advice for the embattled AG, when I phoned him for comment.
"Mr. Horne, own up to your past," he said. "If you intend to run, be aware that people are going to point out your past to the [citizens] of Arizona. Deal with it...Go sit on Santa's lap, and ask for a Y chromosome for Christmas."