Mired in Corruption and Allegations of Crimes, Even Tom Horne's Denials Sound Like Admissions
Sitting across from me in the office of her attorney, Tom Ryan, Sarah Beattie relates the details of her work for Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne in "constituent services," which really amounted to working on the AG's re-election campaign, creating documents, and, most importantly, raising money.
In fact, according to Beattie's sworn affidavit and more than 146 pages of exhibits that back up her statement, Horne and several members of the AG's Office spent much, if not most, of their time not working for the people who pay them — taxpayers — but on behalf of Horne's re-election effort.
"The AG's executive office is the campaign headquarters [for Horne]," Beattie, 26, told me in an interview published last week on New Times' Valley Fever blog.
Since then, Ryan, working Beattie's case pro bono, has filed a complaint with the Arizona Secretary of State's Office and the Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission.
Now, everyone in the local press corps is getting a piece of the action.
Did Ryan also hand over copies to law enforcement agencies such as the FBI and the Maricopa County Attorney's Office?
Ryan would not say during a recent press conference. Though he did have a message for those in the AG's Office intent on tearing down Beattie by any means possible.
"I'm not going to comment on any ongoing criminal investigation," Ryan stated. "I will say that anybody in the Horne camp needs to be very cautious, very careful, because under both state and federal law, there are laws prohibiting witness tampering and witness intimidation."
(Note: The Arizona Capitol Times has since confirmed that the MCAO is in possession of a copy of the complaint.)
As Ryan passionately pointed out, there are alleged crimes involved, some of which I discussed in last week's column.
"Your chief cop," Ryan said of Horne, "the guy in charge of ethics and everything else, has violated the law. Substantially . . . the issue is Tom Horne . . . and the misconduct that he has guided, deliberately guided, in his office"
For example, there's the federal Hatch Act and the state version thereof, called the little Hatch Act, which regulates political activity by public employees.
There's also a blanket ban on doing campaign work on state time and a prohibition of the improper destruction of public records — a felony, I might add.
See, Beattie alleges a conspiracy by Horne and members of his staff to keep their alleged campaign work off the books by using their personal e-mails and laptops to do political work on state time.
Oddly, it's a conspiracy that Horne confirmed in his response to the complaint Ryan filed.
As I explained in a recent blog post, Beattie alleged in her complaint that Horne ordered her to delete a political e-mail that he sent to her inadvertently, watching her as she complied.
This wasn't difficult to believe from the get-go, as Horne recently hit "return" instead of "forward" on an e-mail blast from the camp of his Republican primary foe, former Arizona gaming director Mark Brnovich.
Horne had subscribed, as did several members of his staff, to these Brnovich campaign alerts, and they allegedly monitored them on state time, according to numerous screen-shots of the records involved.
In the case of the Brnovich alert, Horne sent a reply, which he meant to forward, kvetching about a Republican women's club in Prescott.
What about the campaign-related e-mail that he sent Beattie and demanded she delete? Well, Horne owned that one, too, in his denial, claiming what he did was copacetic.
"It is written in the policy & procedures that if any employee receives an inappropriate political email, they are to delete it and instruct the sender not to send any more emails," Horne wrote. "So if Ms. Beattie was told to delete an email, it is because that is what our office instructs employees to do. Records requests are answered from a central computer memory, so deletions at individual computers cannot hide anything and are not intended to."
When I asked Horne's spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, if this meant Horne was admitting to ordering the deletion of the e-mail, she replied in the affirmative.
Thus, Horne essentially is backing up Beattie's allegation of a conspiracy to use the AG's Office as his campaign headquarters.
In ordering Beattie to destroy a public document, he was getting rid of evidence that he had been directing AG employees to disobey the law.
What's more, the Harvard-educated Horne obviously is too dumb to even realize what he's copped to.
Horne claims that "deletions at individual computers cannot hide anything and are not intended to," while not telling the public what reporters know: that his office purges e-mails every 34 days.
As a result, Horne made sure that this particular e-mail was not subject to some general public-records request by a reporter.
In attempting to defend himself, he confirmed other elements of Beattie's story.
He admitted that his staff holds regular Wednesday "calendar meetings" where campaign events are discussed.
Horne thinks this is a-okay. Just a matter of juggling schedules. Thing is, the extensive agendas from these meetings suggest that anything highlighted "deep blue" is political.
Take a look at one example from August 28, 2013, in exhibits Ryan gave the Secretary of State's Office (online at phoenixnewtimes.com). It's almost all blue and apparently shows the participation of and planning by other AG staff.
Horne even makes his case for why AG employees working on campaign docs and other campaign stuff while on the clock is legit, declaring that "there is nothing illegal or unseemly about that."
Au contraire, General Lawbreaker.
Interestingly, those alleged by Beattie to have done campaign work on Horne's behalf make pretty good scratch as public employees.
Outreach director Winn pulls down a yearly salary of $103,040. Her immediate supervisor and Horne's chief of staff, Margaret Dugan, makes $125,547. Garrett Archer, a policy guy, $60,000. Debra Scordato, Horne's executive assistant, makes $68,250. Legislative liaison Mecum, close to $70,000.
Beattie began at $32,000 and quickly was bumped up to $45,000, with a move to Horne's executive office on the second floor.
That's more than a 40 percent increase.
Horne criticized Beattie's work performance in his response.
So if she was such a bad employee, why the promotion and raise?
Beattie says she left Horne's employ after the AG repeatedly showed a cavalier attitude to any semblance of a wall between his office and the campaign.
She pointed to Winn's using a state car to attend a campaign event.
Horne's office since has confirmed that Winn did this, insisting that she was reprimanded for it.
In her affidavit, Beattie tells of a trip to Molina Fine Jewelers with Horne and his perennial pal and former employee Carmen Chenal to scout for an event location.
While there, Chenal tried on rings with massive rocks as Beattie snapped pics of Chenal's hands.
Chenal since has confirmed to me via e-mail that the pics are real and that the trip to Molina's actually happened.
Score yet another point for Beattie.
Beattie swears that she saw Horne solicit money on state time, using a thick binder of people to hit up, intentionally labeled "Border Patrol."
She's produced that document, shown to me, with scribbles from Horne, it seems.
In his denial statement, Horne admits that he had this document in his office but insists he never used it on state time. He does not explain why the binder was mislabeled.
Which is kind of like a suspect saying that he owns a murder weapon, and tried to make it look like a paperweight, but he never killed anyone with it.
This, as the suspect's political career lies bleeding before us.
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.