Tom Horne, "General Lawbreaker," Is So Guilty Even His Denials Sound Like Admissions
Sitting across from me in the office of her attorney, Tom Ryan, Sarah Beattie relates the details of her work for Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne in "constituent services," which really amounted to working on the AG's re-election campaign, creating documents, and, most importantly, raising money.
Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne (a.k.a. "General Lawbreaker")
In fact, according to Beattie's sworn affidavit and more than 146 pages of exhibits that back up her statement, Horne and several members of the AG's Office spent much, if not most, of their time not working for the people who pay them -- taxpayers -- but on behalf of Horne's re-election effort.
"The AG's executive office is the campaign headquarters [for Horne]," Beattie, 26, told me in an interview published last week on New Times' Valley Fever blog.
Since then, Ryan, working Beattie's case pro bono, has filed a complaint with the Arizona Secretary of State's Office and the Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission.
Now, everyone in the local press corps is getting a piece of the action.
Did Ryan also hand over copies to law enforcement agencies such as the FBI and the Maricopa County Attorney's Office?
Ryan would not say during a recent press conference. Though he did have a message for those in the AG's Office intent on tearing down Beattie by any means possible.
"I'm not going to comment on any ongoing criminal investigation," Ryan stated. "I will say that anybody in the Horne camp needs to be very cautious, very careful, because under both state and federal law, there are laws prohibiting witness tampering and witness intimidation."
(Note: The Arizona Capitol Times since has confirmed that the MCAO is in possession of a copy of the complaint.)
As Ryan passionately pointed out, there are alleged crimes involved, some of which I discussed in last week's column.
"Your chief cop," Ryan said of Horne, "the guy in charge of ethics and everything else, has violated the law. Substantially . . . the issue is Tom Horne . . . and the misconduct that he has guided, deliberately guided, in his office"
For example, there's the federal Hatch Act and the state version thereof, called the little Hatch Act, which regulates political activity by public employees.
There's also a blanket ban on doing campaign work on state time and a prohibition of the improper destruction of public records -- a felony, I might add.
See, Beattie alleges a conspiracy by Horne and members of his staff to keep their alleged campaign work off the books by using their personal e-mails and laptops to do political work on state time.
Oddly, it's a conspiracy that Horne confirmed in his response to the complaint Ryan filed.
As I explained in a recent blog post, Beattie alleged in her complaint that Horne ordered her to delete a political e-mail that he sent to her inadvertently, watching her as she complied.
This wasn't difficult to believe from the get-go, as Horne recently hit "return" instead of "forward" on an e-mail blast from the camp of his Republican primary foe, former Arizona gaming director Mark Brnovich.
Horne had subscribed, as did several members of his staff, to these Brnovich campaign alerts, and they allegedly monitored them on state time, according to numerous screen-shots of the records involved.
In the case of the Brnovich alert, Horne sent a reply, which he meant to forward, kvetching about a Republican women's club in Prescott.
What about the campaign-related e-mail that he sent Beattie and demanded she delete?
Well, Horne owned that one, too, in his denial, claiming what he did was copacetic.
"It is written in the policy & procedures that if any employee receives an inappropriate political email, they are to delete it and instruct the sender not to send any more emails," Horne wrote. "So if Ms. Beattie was told to delete an email, it is because that is what our office instructs employees to do. Records requests are answered from a central computer memory, so deletions at individual computers cannot hide anything and are not intended to."
When I asked Horne's spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, if this meant Horne was admitting to ordering the deletion of the e-mail, she replied in the affirmative.
Thus, Horne essentially is backing up Beattie's allegation of a conspiracy to use the AG's Office as his campaign headquarters.