Bill Montgomery Believes Law He's Enforcing Against Tom Horne Is Unconstitutional
The politician in his native habitat, demonstrating the practice of speaking with forked tongue...
It's not every day that an elected law enforcement official, who has sworn an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States, confesses that he or she is enforcing an unconstitutional law.
Yet, that's just what Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery, Arizona's human pretzel, did recently before the Arizona House Judiciary Committee, when he testified that he believed state contribution limits to be "unconstitutionally low."
Montgomery did this in support of House Bill 2593, a bill that would increase individual contributions to candidates for the legislature by ten times the current amount.
Interestingly, Monty made an argument similar to those in favor of legalizing pot, prostitution and (gasp) illegal immigration. You know, prohibition is bad and creates criminality.
"The big problem that I see right now," Monty told committee chair Eddie Farnsworth, "is a consequence of so many investigations that my office participated in is that the low level of contribution limits, both for individuals and in the aggregate creates an environment in which people who want to help to participate in the election process, those who want to advocate on behalf of a particular candidate or to provide information to voters can't really do so in donating directly to a candidate because of...what I would say are unconstitutionally low contribution limits."
A politician shilling for larger campaign contributions? Will wonders never cease?
Thing is, Montgomery is currently pursuing a civil case in administrative law court against Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne, alleging that Horne colluded with his now-employee Kathleen Winn to exceed campaign contributions, by having Winn run an independent expenditure committee on Horne's behalf.
Which is why Winn's lawyer, in a motion to dismiss filed recently, jumped on Monty's statement, pointing out that if Monty is right, then the MCAO "simply does not have a case."
I'm not armchair lawyer enough to know if such an argument will stick. Moreover, it's just one among many that attorneys for Winn and Horne are throwing at Administrative Law Judge Tammy Eigenheer, hoping their clients don't get dinged for upwards of $1 million each.
But Winn's attorney is definitely successful at one thing: Illustrating Monty's haughty "do as I say, not as I do," attitude toward public life.
That's an attitude exemplified in Monty's support of the so-called SANE immigration reform proposal, one which carves out an exception to the expulsion of undocumented felons, if the felon in question has committed a identity-theft-related offense.
Meanwhile, here on planet Maricopa County, Montgomery's prosecutors pursue undocumented workers with a zeal comparable to Les Miserables' Inspector Javert hounding the trail of Jean Valjean, hitting them with multiple counts of class four felonies, keeping them nonbondable, coercing guilty pleas, and ensuring their deportations.
This, all because they may have used an invented Social Security Number to obtain work. The multiple counts? One for every document in their employee files.
Employers are never investigated, of course. An even better outcome than realized by Monty's pal Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who sunk more than $500,000 into getting Bill elected county attorney in 2010, in alleged violation of state campaign laws.
And yet, Arpaio escaped with a pinch on the wrist. Which is oh-so-different than l'affair Horne, why? Because it involved Monty, natch.
Rank hypocrisy? Indeed, but such cognitive dissonance is a requirement for survival in Montgomery's world.
Otherwise, no doubt, his head would explode.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Phoenix New Times' biggest stories.