Feathered Bastard

Tom Horne Slimed as Pro-Statutory Rape in New Attack Ad

Tom Horne has an A-bomb dropped on him in this latest TV hit piece

In the annals of negative campaign advertising, this new anti-Tom Horne ad from the Washington, D.C.-based Committee for Justice and Fairness could win a gold medal in the below-the-belt category.

In it, Horne, Republican candidate for Arizona Attorney General and current state schools superintendent, is practically presented as the enemy of all rugrats. Sort of like a modern-day version of the wicked Child Hunter in the classic 1968 kiddie flick Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Or worse.

"In general, they're trying to create the impression that I'm in favor of statutory rape, pedophilia and child pornography," Horne told me of the ad, which recently began airing in the Phoenix market, "Obviously, I'm not in favor of any of those things."

But when a man has to say that in his own defense, then, facts aside, the ad in question has has drawn blood.

Dana Bykowski, chairwoman of the Committee for Justice and Fairness, hasn't yet returned my calls for comment. (Bykowski is listed as a "principal" with the DC consulting firm Hilltop Public Solutions.) CJF is an independent "527" group, one of those that can raise beaucuoup cash from corporations, unions and the like, and spend it with abandon.

The ad itself alleges that Horne "voted against tougher penalties for statutory rape," and, when, "students caught a teacher looking at child pornography on a school computer, Horne used his vote on the Board of Education to allow that teacher back in the classroom."

Regarding the first charge, while in the state House back in 2000, Horne did vote against HB 2587, which would have made sexual conduct with a minor 15 and above a class four felony, instead of a class six felony, which it is now.

If the perp was at least five years older than the teenager, the bill would have made it a class two felony. In each case, the penalties would have increased.

However, a number of Democrats voted against the bill as well back then, including Rebecca Rios, Richard Miranda, Leah Landrum, and John Loredo. 

"If, to be politically correct, you have to vote for every increase in penalties that comes along," said Horne, "it ultimately would mean capital punishment for everything."

Regarding the teacher caught looking at porn, the ad references an East Valley Tribune article dated May 22, 2006. The item reported that a Queen Creek high school teacher had gotten a new teaching certification from the Board of Education.

This, after he'd resigned in 2002 in the wake of his students reporting him for looking at porn on a class computer. The Trib piece noted vaguely that some of the images "had been of underage subjects."

At the time, Horne said he was deferring to the education department's professional practices advisory committee, which recommended an approval of the man's teaching certificate, according to the article.

When I spoke to him today, Horne stated that the police investigation of the computer equipment involved in the incident did not reveal any child porn.

"If he had looked at child pornography, he would be in prison," Horne said of the teacher.

I asked Felecia Rotellini, Horne's Democratic rival for the AG position, about the ad. She said she'd heard of the Committee for Justice and Fairness, but didn't know anything about the ad itself.

"The first I knew of it was when I was sitting on my couch watching the 10 o'clock news and saw it," she told me.

And her reaction when she saw it?

"I was like, `Wow,'" she said. "I was anxious to get to the end of the ad to see who did it."

Is the ad fair? Well, as Mr. Dooley once said long ago, politics ain't bean bag. Were the loafer on the other foot, I suspect the Dems'd be crying foul. As it is, they're likely gloating because Horne's having to play "D" on this one.

Indeed, the ad's use of children recalls LBJ's infamous, anti-Barry Goldwater "Daisy" ad from the 1964 presidential election. That one was unfair too, but unnervingly effective. 

With the election one week out, the AG's race has gone nuclear. Best seek out the nearest bomb shelter till it's over.

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons