Tom Horne Sings the Blues: Clean Elections Votes to Investigate Him, the FBI Has His Notebook, and More
I officially take back everything bad I've said about this state's Clean Elections laws.
Well, almost. Because there's no way in hell that a loser like disbarred ex-county attorney Andrew Thomas should be awarded three-quarters of a million dollars in public cash, as could happen during this election cycle.
Still, I'm more bullish on the Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission after it unanimously voted on Wednesday to authorize an inquiry into Attorney General Tom Horne for (allegedly) operating his re-election campaign out of his public office.
pool photo/AZ Republic/Tom Tingle Can't wait to see this guy's mugshot blasted all over the Internet...
During the June 19 hearing, a quorum of four commissioners -- two Republicans, one Independent, and a Democrat (via phone) -- dismissed the arguments of Horne's attorney Sandra Slaton, who contended that Horne's accuser, former AG staffer Sarah Beattie, was not credible, and further, that the commission itself did not have jurisdiction over the matter.
Slaton was referring to a law passed by the legislature this year, which attempts to restrict the authority of the commission to only those candidates who, unlike Horne, accept public financing.
But the commission rejected both of those arguments. Chairman Timothy Reckart noted that the argument regarding the commission's authority was something that might be raised at a later date. As to the underlying facts, that's what an investigation would determine.
"What you've said isn't sufficient for me to say, `Well, there's no basis for an inquiry,'" said Reckart, a Pima County Republican. "We're not making any disposition here as to the substance of the complaint...This is merely to decide whether or not to go ahead with an inquiry."
His fellow commissioners agreed.
Maricopa County Republican Mitchell Laird stated that if Beattie's affidavit were true, "then there would be a violation of the campaign election laws."
Thomas Koester, a Pima County Independent, seemed to go even further in his remarks, finding the complaint, submitted to the commission by Beattie's attorney Tom Ryan, to be credible.
"The overwhelming amount of evidence suggests the possibility, at least, of some irregularities," Koestner commented. "And the testimony of a person who has previous experience in campaigns leads me to believe that it's not just an incident. It's something that's gone on for some time."