Spare the rod, spoil the Horne-dog.
Arizona Public Integrity Alliance, the conservative group Horne unsuccessfully SLAPP-sued for defamation, is giving Attorney General Tom Horne the first of many birchings he'll no doubt be receiving this year, in this new ad recounting his vehicular hit and run back in 2012, with his presumed mistress and then employee Carmen Chenal in the car.
AZPIA President Tyler Montague tells me that the commercial, which encourages viewers to call Horne's office and demand his resignation, begins a statewide ad run today.
The cost of the buy?
"Just under $400K," Montague informed me. "Interesting irony, eh?"
Indeed, on Wednesday, Horne was hit with the bad news that Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk had rejected the findings of an administrative law judge, and reinstated her order to Horne and his outreach director Kathleen Winn to pay back close to $400,000 in campaign contributions.
This, because Polk concluded that Winn and Horne acted illegally during the 2010 general election for AG, coordinating Horne's campaign with an independent expenditure group run by Winn.
But this ad saves that scandal for another time. Nor does it mention more recent allegations by ex-AG staffer Sarah Beattie that Horne and much of his executive office staff are violating the law by doing work for Horne's re-election effort on state time.
"The hardest part about making our 30-second commercial was deciding which of the long list of Horne's scandals to discuss," Montague said in a statement released with the ad. "It wasn't easy. We settled on telling people about allegations that Horne hired his mistress for a $108k state salary, and that he was sneaking off with her when the FBI observed him commit a hit and run.
"I feel those incidents concisely symbolize Horne's sense of entitlement and the lack of concern for the law displayed in more complex issues, like the accusations he took illegal campaign donations and that he uses state resources to further his political campaign."
Regarding the hit and run, Horne ultimately pleaded no contest to charges brought against him and paid a fine. Chenal, once an Assistant Attorney General, has since moved on to a job with Horne-supporter Dennis Wilenchik.
But as documented in e-mails and photos that are part of Beattie's complaint, now under review by the FBI and the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, Chenal is still heavily involved in Horne's campaign, helping him scout locations for campaign events, vetting robocalls, and weighing in on details like the biscotti to be used in gift bags passed out at fundraisers.
Keep in mind, this commercial comes from a group of Republicans. Can you imagine what it'll be like if Horne survives his primary with former Arizona gaming director Mark Brnovich, and heads into a general election re-match with Democrat Felecia Rotellini?
Horne's enemies have a treasure trove of public documents to draw on. It's a gold mine for attack-ad creators, and can be quoted directly from the records in question.
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Tom Horne is a self-made disaster that we get to watch implode for the next several months. Should be better than watching King Joffrey croak on Game of Thrones.
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