Tom Horne's High-Priced Legal Beagles Cannot Explain Away Horne's Blatant Corruption
Pool Photo by Tom Tingle, Arizona Republic Horne, kissing his political career goodbye...
Day one of an administrative hearing into alleged campaign-finance shenanigans by Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne found Phoenix attorney Buddy Rake's genteel Texas drawl dipping in and out of the Federal Election Commission's definition of what constitutes illegal "coordination" by a candidate.
That's what Horne is alleged to have done with the independent expenditure committee Business Leaders for Arizona in 2010, when his political operative and current outreach director, Kathleen Winn, set her gun sights on Felecia Rotellini, the Democratic candidate for attorney general.
Rake is part of a four-man team of lawyers representing Horne and Winn. At question is whether Horne and Winn coordinated the creation and financing of a TV ad attacking Rotellini as a pro-illegal, pro-union liberal who "sold Arizona out."
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BLA raised more than $500K to air this ad, which is credited with helping Horne get over the hump and beat Rotellini by 60,000 votes statewide.
For this -- and for her work on Horne's 2010 primary campaign -- the soon-to-be outreach director was dubbed by the AG-elect during a victory celebration "the raven of rurals," supposedly because she secured the rural Arizona vote.
(Winn later cracked during a break that this title, mentioned briefly in the hearing, was "like being [called] the best girl at the trailer park.")
At the same event, Horne called her the campaign's "secret weapon."
Rake recounted how the FBI, in the course of investigating campaign-finance allegations against Horne (as well as more serious ones involving wire fraud, ob-struction of justice, and tampering with witnesses) visited the Arizona Secretary of State's Office in 2012 and learned that Arizona's law was "vague" on the subject of what constitutes prohibited coordination.
So SOS officials gave the FBI the FEC's definition of coordination, which is more detailed.
"Here's where I think things started to fall apart," Rake told Administrative Law Judge Tammy Eigenheer. "The FBI confused the distinction between communication and coordination. You don't give up any First Amendment rights by forming an independent election campaign."
Rake maintained he was being "generous" when he said the FBI was "confused about what actually consisted coordination."