Tom Horne Turned AG's Office Into Campaign HQ, According to Sarah Beattie
Ex-AG staffer Sarah Beattie says she saw Horne make fundraising calls from the AG's Office...
Beattie has other documents to back up her claims of widespread political work by state employees on campaign time, such as agendas for Horne's regular 2 p.m. Wednesday "calendar meetings."
I was shown one such document, with the notation at the top, apparently made by someone at the AG's office, which states, "deep blue is political."
Most of the items mentioned on the agenda were in deep blue.
"I was asked to participate in these official calendar meetings because of my know-how with fundraising," Beattie explained.
Horne was always at the meetings, she said.
According to Beattie, AG staff members were advised to bring in their own computer equipment, and use their own cell phones and personal e-mail accounts, so as not to create a public record.
"They said do your stuff on your laptops, be cautious, don't send anything to your official e-mails," she recalled. "It was very coordinated. It was very smart. I'm sure he's not the only guy in the country that's running his campaign on tax dollars."
I asked who specifically asked her and other staff to do this, and she said both Horne and Horne's chief of staff Margaret Dugan made this request.
According to election law experts I've spoken with, the use of personal devices and accounts on state time would not insulate Horne and his staff from federal and state laws regulating political work by public employees.
Indeed, the AG office's own policies on political activity, as set forth in a memo sent out to AG staff last year, advise that, "No public employee may participate in any political or campaign work while on the public's time."
Specifically, there are laws regulating both state and federal political activity by government workers, known as the Hatch Act, and in the case of the state, the "little Hatch Act. "
Election law expert and former Assistant Arizona Attorney General Jim Barton saw several problems for the AG's Office in the allegations raised by Beattie.
"Basically, you have two classes of regulation," he told me. "You've got one that has to do with Hatch Act stuff or mini-Hatch Act...So, essentially, is he requiring his employees, employees of the state to violate the Hatch Act?
"That's one big class of problems. And then you have a misuse of public resources, right? That's another class of problems.
"And if they're using their own e-mail accounts, and they're using it for stuff that they're assigned, it creates a question about whether that becomes a public document that they created at work, at the direction of the attorney general."