Who Will Chop Off the Head of Tom Horne's Zombie-Like Campaign?

Categories: News

Stephen Lemons
Chandler election law attorney Tom Ryan, filing his client Sarah Beattie's complaint against Horne with the Arizona Secretary of State's Office.

"That'd be like a base runner getting called out and saying, 'I'm going to [overrule] the umpire and I'm gonna rule I'm really safe,'" he told Fox 10 News.

Horne knows better. The law governing administrative decisions, Arizona Revised Statute 41-1092.08, reads that "the head of the agency," — in this case, Polk — "may review the [ALJ's] decision and accept, reject, or modify it."

As for the appeal Horne is making to the Superior Court, the law leans toward Polk.

The statute describing the scope of the Superior Court's review (A.R.S. 12-910) states:

"The court shall affirm the agency action unless after reviewing the administrative record and supplementing evidence presented at the evidentiary hearing, the court concludes that the action is not supported by substantial evidence, is contrary to law, is arbitrary and capricious, or is an abuse of discretion."

Given the reams of evidence suggesting to all but Horne's lawyers, employees, and sycophants that Horne and Winn coordinated with each other in 2010, it's difficult to see any judge finding Polk's decision "not supported by substantial evidence" or "contrary to law" or "arbitrary and capricious" or "an abuse of discretion."

Was Polk influenced by outside events? Beattie's attorney, Tom Ryan, believes so.

"I have a firm belief that Sarah Beattie's affidavit helped push Sheila Polk in this direction," Ryan tells New Times. "It certainly confirms what all rational people in the state of Arizona believe and that is Tom Horne and Kathleen Winn coordinated the campaign."

Even before Ryan dropped off Beattie's affidavit and 146-plus pages of exhibits to the Arizona Secretary of State's Office, questions were raised about Horne's use of his office for campaign purposes.

Horne's legislative liaison, Brett Mecum, was criticized for making politically charged tweets during what seemed to be office hours.

Similarly, Grisham was accused of playing campaign spokeswoman while holding down her job as public-information officer for the AG's Office.

These allegations were all about boundaries, and the AG's Office claimed campaign activity occurred on breaks and during lunch times.

Meanwhile, rumors swirled of AG's staff doing opposition research on Brnovich and Rotellini.

On April 27, the Arizona Capitol Times broke the news that Beattie, an employee in the attorney general's constituent-services division, had stepped down, claiming in her resignation note that Horne's office was "not following campaign laws or finance laws" and that her "legal well-being" was at stake.

A day later, a video surfaced showing Mecum dropping off a campaign-related complaint on February 11 with the Secretary of State's Office, as Beattie accompanied him.

Grisham said Mecum had been on his lunch hour. Indeed, the time stamp on the document was close to noon.

Before the video was made public, New Times asked Mecum if he had filed the document with the SOS.

Mecum insisted via Facebook: "I don't do anything political on state time."

He further maintained: "I filed no complaint."

That was before he knew that there was a video showing him in flagrante delicto.

The farce rolled on.

The same week, it was revealed that Horne mistakenly had responded to a fundraising e-mail from the Brnovich campaign.

Butterfingers Horne hit "reply" instead of "forward." The e-mail was time-stamped at 2:32 p.m. on Tuesday, April 29. In it, Horne kvetched about a Republican women's group in Prescott.

Grisham claimed Horne had sent the e-mail by mistake at 7 a.m., when he was not yet in the AG's Office. But the time stamp sure seemed to reveal that Horne was doing campaign stuff on state time.

The Brnovich camp also disclosed to New Times that several AG staffers were, like Horne, subscribed to Brnovich's campaign e-mails.

The software the Brnovich campaign uses to send out these e-mails shows precisely when and how often Horne; his chief of staff, Margaret Dugan; Winn; Mecum; and other Horne-ites opened them.

Dugan and Winn admitted to New Times that they did so at the office. Dugan claimed she did so only on breaks or when in the toilet.

Winn said she always opens all e-mails, then immediately deletes them. Though in her case, the Brnovich camp's software shows her opening e-mails more than once on what could be state time.

This activity skirts the edges of impropriety. Most of the records from the Brnovich camp showed the use of personal rather than official e-mail accounts by Horne-ites, though much of the activity was during the work day.

But it was Hurricane Sarah who really demolished the Horne camp.

Horne loyalists already had pulled out the long knives for Beattie, as soon as news that she had left the AG's Office hit, after turning in a scintillating resignation letter.

She was an ex-stripper, had used cocaine, and had been convicted of DUI, Horne surrogates whispered to some in local media.

Horne himself suggested vaguely, though publicly, that Beattie had problems he could not discuss because of federal privacy statutes regarding disclosure of personal medical information.

Like a lot of people telling the truth, Beattie did not try to hide anything. Sure, she had been a stripper when younger, she confirmed to reporters.

Yes, she had done coke in the past. The DUI? Well, she told Winn she had one when Winn hired her. This is backed by an e-mail Beattie sent Winn (released with other documents), reminding Winn to tell the AG's human resources folks about the DUI.

And if Beattie is such a bad person, as the Horne camp suggests, why was she promoted while on the job, given a 40 percent pay raise, from $32,000 to $45,000, and moved to the executive staff on the second floor.

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