What's former Attorney General Tom Horne doing these days? Apparently, he's joined up with his former law partner, Scottsdale attorney Sandra Slaton. His mug is on Slaton's website and the State Bar of Arizona now cites Slaton's office as his professional address.
Slaton, you'll recall, briefly represented Horne in an appearance before the Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission. And she filed a SLAPP suit against an independent group of GOPers who were running ads against Horne early on.
Which, of course, went nowhere.
(Note: A SLAPP suit is a libel suit threatened or filed to shut someone up, regardless of the underlying merit of the claim.)
A call to Slaton's office reveals that her firm, formerly Slaton & Sannes, is now Horne, Slaton & Sannes. Horne was out when I phoned, but I left a message. Perhaps he'll call back. If so, I'll offer an update below.
Horne had already mentioned to the press that he would be going back to the practice of law, following his defeat in the 2014 Republican primary by Arizona's new Attorney General Mark Brnovich.
And Horne may need the money, as he's still fighting a $400,000 fine for campaign finance shenanigans as imposed by Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk.
An investigation by the ACCEC into allegations that Horne turned the AG's office into his re-election headquarters resulted in a $10,000 settlement and an admission by Horne that AG employees cannot campaign on state time. (Duh.)
Also, there's an investigation into those same allegations being done by Gilbert Town Attorney Michael Hamblin and retired Arizona Court of Appeals Judge Daniel Barker.
That investigation, which is ongoing, was prompted by the Arizona Secretary of State's finding that there was enough evidence of wrongdoing to require a probe.
Finally, according to sources, there are still investigations into alleged criminal wrongdoing by Horne while he was in office, by the Maricopa County Attorney's Office and the FBI.
Horne has denied all charges of wrongdoing in the past, even when caught red-handed. For example, after pleading no contest and paying a fine for vehicular hit and run while he was meeting up with his mistress, he still claims that he did no damage to the other person's car.
A recent federal judge's opinion invalidating the state's legal definition of a "political committee" complicates things, particularly on the civil side, with the $400,000 fine that Polk wants Horne to cough up.
Horne has appealed the ruling of a Maricopa County Superior Court judge, which upheld Polk's authority to fine Horne for illegal coordination with an independent expenditure committee during the 2010 general election campaign for Attorney General.
Polk's office recently told me that Polk is aware of the federal judge's ruling, and Polk is still pursuing the case.
Since Horne was drummed out of office, largely for his corruption, shouldn't we cut him some slack? Wasn't losing his primary race to a newcomer enough punishment?
No, it wasn't. And I'll tell you why: Because Horne is shameless, believes he did nothing wrong, and, unlike disbarred former County Attorney Andy Thomas, retains his law license, and the myth of victimization, still peddled by himself and his followers.
Which is why these investigations against Horne must be pursued until Horne is taught a lesson.
Why should he be able to make bank off being a former AG, considering how he sullied his high office?
There is a deterrent effect in punishing someone like Horne. Placing scalawags in the stockade helps keep other politicians on notice that there but for the grace of a judge or grand jury, go they.
I might feel a little sympathy for Horne if he had ever expressed remorse for his wrongdoing. But he never has.
Also, he mercilessly slimed the reputation of his ex-employee Sarah Beattie, who valiantly turned whistleblower and became the instrument of Horne's downfall.
Horne abandoned his moral compass at birth. I recently spoke to a gent who claimed to have run Horne's campaigns while Horne was on the Paradise Valley School Board.
At the time, Horne was a Democrat, and a "flaming liberal," according to this guy.
But Horne, knowing he would never climb the political ladder in Sand Land as a liberal Dem, became a Republican.
Later, when accused of being a RiNO, he went hard right.
I guess if you want a lawyer with zero ethics, then Horne is your man. On the other hand, sleazy lawyers are sometimes the most effective.
Folks tell me that Horne was at the recent Maricopa County Republican Committee meeting and was seen schmoozing with folks, handing out his card.
Talk about chutzpah.
Now, an aside regarding Slaton, a real" SLAPP-suit Sally," who evidently specializes in such complaints: According to Lori Urban, the GOP lady who is running against Arizona Republican Party Chair Robert Graham at Saturday's mandatory state meeting in Tempe, Slaton recently threatened a libel action for Urban, on those involved with a local newsletter.
The newsletter repeated salacious information about Urban found in an old Arizona Republic article.
The threat was a silly one, and those who were targeted have largely ignored it, save for a follow-up that has little to do with Urban directly.
I spoke with Urban, and she seems like a nice enough person, so I see no need to reopen that can of worms. Urban also pointed out that her opponent, according to an old Laurie Roberts article, once used the same tactic of a SLAPP suit threat, though, Slaton wasn't involved in that one.
Slaton did not return a call for comment, but the cover letter Urban provided to me looks legit, and others have told me about receiving this same letter.
I'm not sure which is dumber, SLAPP suits, which are meant to silence critics, or hiring a scandal-tainted pol like Tom Horne to head your firm.
I plan to be at the state party GOP meeting tomorrow. Here's hoping I run into Horne there.
Really, Tom, it's been way too long.
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