Tom Horne's Nightmare: Sheila Polk Rejects Findings of ALJ in Campaign Finance Case
Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk has rejected the findings of an administrative law judge in the campaign finance case against Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne, and reinstated her original order, demanding that Horne and AG outreach director Kathleen Winn reimburse donors $400,000.
In a decision filed Wednesday afternoon, Polk concluded "it is more probable than not that" Horne and Winn's phone calls and e-mails during the 2010 general election campaign constituted coordination, thereby rendering illegal most of the money raised on behalf of Winn's independent expenditure committee Business Leaders for Arizona.
Responding to the news, Horne spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham indicated that Horne would appeal Polk's decision to the superior court and would not resign, despite calls from some that he do so.
Tom Tingle/Arizona Republic/Pool Photo Horne: facing a perfect storm of trouble
"[A] county politician has foolishly ignored the ruling of an independent judge," Grisham stated. "She will undoubtedly lose on appeal. In the meantime, Attorney General Horne will continue the job he was elected to do."
Meaning that Horne will go right along, scamming the taxpayers and using the people's resources for his re-election effort.
Still, by this point, the AG must be punch-drunk.
Polk's roundhouse right to Horne's noggin comes after the drubbing he's been enduring this week from yet another scandal: This one involving ex-AG staffer Sarah Beattie and allegations that Horne's violating Arizona and perhaps federal law by running his campaign from his state office, with AG employees' doing political stuff on state time.
Beattie's allegations were submitted on Monday to the Arizona Secretary of State and the Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission in the form of a sworn affidavit and more than 146 pages of e-mails, documents, photos, and metadata.
All of it backing up Beattie's claim that "the AG's executive office is the campaign headquarters [for Horne]."
That file is now also in the hands of the FBI. The Arizona Capitol Times recently broke the news that the Maricopa County Attorney's Office has a copy as well.
Beattie's attorney Tom Ryan praised Polk's decision. He said he thinks Beattie's coming forward nudged Polk toward a second bite at the apple.
"I have a firm belief that Sarah Beattie's affidavit helped push Sheila Polk in this direction," Ryan told me. "It certainly confirms what all rational people in the state of Arizona believe, and that is, Tom Horne and Kathleen Winn coordinated the campaign."
Polk does not mention the Beattie affair in her "final administrative decision in this matter."
Whether or not it influenced her, Ryan's filing of Beattie's complaint certainly gave the Republican county attorney political cover, if she needed it, to go after Horne again.