Elections Investigators Find "Reasonable Cause" That Tom Horne Violated Campaign Laws
Attorney General Tom Horne.
Stop us if you've heard this one before: Attorney General Tom Horne is under investigation.
The Secretary of State's Office found probable cause that Horne violated several campaign-finance laws, as a result of former Horne staffer Sarah Beattie's complaint, which essentially alleged that Horne had employees doing his campaign work on state time, at the AG's office. This finding by the SOS's office recommends further investigation into whether Horne broke these state laws.
According to the investigators for the SOS's office, that kind of work would considered an "in-kind contribution," for his committee as a candidate for re-election, but Horne obviously didn't report that, because if it did happen, using state time to work on campaign dealings is illegal anyway.
Due to the investigation the SOS's office did, and due to finding reasonable cause that Horne committed these violations of law, the case would usually be transmitted to the state's Solicitor General for investigation. However, the Solicitor General is part of Horne's office. Here's how Horne spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham says that will work:
The Solicitor General's Office is now tasked with selecting an outside entity to look into the allegations that have been made. Because of a clear conflict of interest, the Attorney General and Executive staff have been walled off from any decisions as to who will be leading the investigation due to the Reasonable Cause Letter issued by the Secretary of State. No one in the Executive Office has knowledge or input into the agency or firm that will be tasked with this investigation.
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As you can see in the memo embedded below, Horne had an opportunity to respond to the allegations raised by Beattie, but this investigation is still moving forward.
Horne issued the following statement in response:
These allegations are brought by a woman who has a history of making claims when she leaves employers. I have filed 11 witness statements indicating there is nothing to these allegations. I therefore look forward to this investigation being a complete vindication. The internal investigation will be terminated as there is no reason to have two investigations at the same time. I have instructed my staff to cooperate fully with any investigation taking place.
The SOS investigators didn't completely agree with that, stating in the memo:
There has been no evidence submitted by Mr. Horne that supports his claim that the Executive Office implemented or followed state law or the Attorney General Memo to prevent campaign activities from occurring during work hours, which could have provided a viable and meaningful defense to these allegations.
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