Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne is running his re-election effort from his state office, and using AG staff members to raise money, organize events and do other campaign-related work on state time.
These are among the many serious allegations leveled against Horne by ex-staff member Sarah Beattie, who resigned April 22 from a job in the AG's constituent services division, complaining that the office was "not following campaign laws."
Beattie sat down with me Thursday in the Chandler office of her attorney Tom Ryan to detail her role as a state employee tasked by Horne to raise money on his behalf, even though her job, ostensibly, was working for the people of Arizona.
"Every day, all day was campaign [work]," explained Beattie, who said her desk was 20 feet from Horne's office at one point. "Horne would come out at any moment and derail an official project and pull me into his office and start talking about stuff that was campaign-related."
The 26-year old said Horne would give out her AG office phone number at campaign events so that potential donors would call her, and that she personally watched Horne make fundraising calls from his state office.
She detailed how members of Horne's executive staff would meet each Wednesday to discuss campaign-related issues, how several AG employees labored for Horne on state time, how government resources sometimes were used, and how Horne once asked her to delete a campaign-related email that he inadvertently sent to her state e-mail.
"The AG's executive office is the campaign headquarters [for Horne]," Beattie alleged.
But the following excerpt from Beattie's affidavit, which Ryan plans to file soon with the Arizona Secretary of State's Office, is perhaps her most damning statement against the highest law enforcement official in Arizona:
Between August 1, 2013 and the date of my resignation of April 22, 2014, the majority of people employed in the executive office of the Arizona Attorney General were campaigning for Tom Horne during regular business hours. This included Tom Horne himself.
By way of example, Tom Horne kept a white three-ring binder on his shelf behind his desk. The spine of this white binder was deliberately mislabeled "Border Patrol." The contents of the binder have nothing to do with the Border Patrol. Instead the binder contained a substantial list of donors from the 2010 campaign and the 2014 campaign with Tom Horne's handwritten notes from calls that he made to donors.
The contents of this binder were solely dedicated to campaign fundraising and solicitations. I have seen Mr. Horne use the binder marked Border Patrol daily to make campaign solicitation calls in his office.
Ryan and Beattie showed me the binder, which was organized in sections: by donors who were attorneys, by the donor's employer, and so on.
On the pages, there were scribblings in ink, which Beattie said were made by Horne.
"It was in his office and I was supposed to make copies [of pages] for myself," Beattie told me. "I always had to go in and get it from his official office.
"I had forgotten that I had it, and the office had fallen into a state of panic, afraid that it had fallen into the wrong hands. I think I blamed someone else for losing it. I found it in my car a few weeks later, and I just continued to blame someone else."
Beattie has other documents to back up her claims of widespread political work by state employees on campaign time, such as agendas for Horne's regular 2 p.m. Wednesday "calendar meetings."
I was shown one such document, with the notation at the top, apparently made by someone at the AG's office, which states, "deep blue is political."
Most of the items mentioned on the agenda were in deep blue.
"I was asked to participate in these official calendar meetings because of my know-how with fundraising," Beattie explained.
Horne was always at the meetings, she said.
According to Beattie, AG staff members were advised to bring in their own computer equipment, and use their own cell phones and personal e-mail accounts, so as not to create a public record.
"They said do your stuff on your laptops, be cautious, don't send anything to your official e-mails," she recalled. "It was very coordinated. It was very smart. I'm sure he's not the only guy in the country that's running his campaign on tax dollars."
I asked who specifically asked her and other staff to do this, and she said both Horne and Horne's chief of staff Margaret Dugan made this request.
According to election law experts I've spoken with, the use of personal devices and accounts on state time would not insulate Horne and his staff from federal and state laws regulating political work by public employees.
Indeed, the AG office's own policies on political activity, as set forth in a memo sent out to AG staff last year, advise that, "No public employee may participate in any political or campaign work while on the public's time."
Specifically, there are laws regulating both state and federal political activity by government workers, known as the Hatch Act, and in the case of the state, the "little Hatch Act. "
Election law expert and former Assistant Arizona Attorney General Jim Barton saw several problems for the AG's Office in the allegations raised by Beattie.
"Basically, you have two classes of regulation," he told me. "You've got one that has to do with Hatch Act stuff or mini-Hatch Act...So, essentially, is he requiring his employees, employees of the state to violate the Hatch Act?
"That's one big class of problems. And then you have a misuse of public resources, right? That's another class of problems.
"And if they're using their own e-mail accounts, and they're using it for stuff that they're assigned, it creates a question about whether that becomes a public document that they created at work, at the direction of the attorney general."
Beattie said she was hired by the AG's office in August 2013 to do fundraising for Horne's campaign.
Initially, she worked for Horne's outreach director Kathleen Winn, during which time, she said she did fundraising, helped with events and worked on a document referred to as Horne's "17 Achievements," which Beattie said was handed out at political events.
But Beattie said she did not like working for Winn, and went to Horne, threatening to quit, because the political season was beginning. She said she needed to find another gig, if she wasn't going to work for him.
"I said I would be willing to work in constituent services...but that I would need a pay raise," she told me. "Horne said, `We need you through November, so please stay.'"
Horne gave her a couple of pay raises, eventually bumping her up an additional $10,000, to $45,000 per year. She then moved to the executive offices on the second floor of the AG's main building.
Beattie said that her role increased with proximity to Horne. But she complained of Horne's sloppiness when it came to maintaining any semblance of a wall between political activity and official duties.
For example, she says Horne often gave out her office number to potential donors at political events, and she would end up receiving calls on that line. She had to admonish Horne to stop doing this.
About three months ago, she claims Horne sent a campaign-related e-mail chain to her AG account by accident. After realizing what he'd done, she says he approached her and asked her to delete it.
"He said, `I really messed up, didn't I? Can you delete that e-mail?'" remembered Beattie.
If true, this would involve the destruction of public records.
Beattie said she found Horne's politically risky behavior worrisome.
Once, she said Horne brought former AG employee and gal-pal Carmen Chenal along as they scouted a location for a fundraising event at Molina Fine Jewelers in Phoenix.
She snapped pics of Chenal's hands, as Chenal tried on rings with massive jewels. The metadata on the photos shows they were taken at the GPS coordinates for the shop's address on October 15, 2013.
In fact, Chenal herself confirmed to me that the photos were legit, and that she had been at Molina's on the day in question.
"Sarah Beattie gave a ride to Tom Horne to Al Molina's shop," Chenal said in an e-mail to me. "He is Cuban like me and a friend. I met Messrs Molina and Horne there to go to lunch for the purpose of introducing Mr. Horne to Mr. Molina to see if he could help Tom Horne raise funds for his campaign.
"Sarah wanted to try on rings. She tried one on, then kept urging me to try one on and I did at which time she took a picture with her cell phone. I kept resisting because I have arthritis and do not wear rings."
The AG apparently did hold a campaign event at Molina's after this visit. A spokesperson for Molina's told me that there was cocktail party for Horne at the jewelry store in November.
Things came to a head in April, after Beattie said Winn and Horne used a state car to drive to a campaign meeting.
"The day I quit, I was very straightforward with Tom on why I was leaving the campaign," she told me. "Because of him and Kathleen Winn taking a government vehicle to the previous campaign meeting.
"I said I'm not going to put myself at risk, and if you're not going to look out for us, I will look out for myself here."
Aside from herself, she said Winn, Dugan, AG legislative liaison Brett Mecum, and Garrett Archer, an AG policy aide, were all involved in campaign work on state time.
Mecum had his hands "in every part of the campaign," she said, and Dugan was constantly prompting people to do more. Winn helped put together events.
Archer was involved in anything "data related," she said.
"Anything that would have come from the campaign server would have come from Garrett," she said.
Horne spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham denied Beattie's allegations.
"All significant campaign work, including meetings, has been done at an off-site location, at lunch time, or after work," she explained in an e-mailed response.
"Some state employees have done volunteer work for the Tom Horne campaign," she admitted. "Those who have done that have done so on their own initiative. No one forced them to do so. Our office does not track who volunteers for what campaigns on their own time."
Grisham further insisted that, "The AG does not conduct fundraising calls in the office."
Also, Grisham claimed that any time Beattie was with Horne to make fundraising calls, the calls were "off site," and "several people...could attest to that."
(Note: Beattie said fundraising calls were made both onsite and off site.)
Asked about the work Archer does for the AG, Grisham had the following reply:
"Some of Garrett Archer's job duties include federal and state relation issues, videography, analyst for legislative team, official website and social media work, annual report, and legislative issues relating to copper theft and scrap metal."
Grisham also claimed that "internal staff who have been named are considering lawsuits against Ms. Beattie."
I called Winn, who denied allegations that she had done any campaign work on state time.
"No, not at all," she told me. "I've done very little in this new effort."
As for Beattie's claim that she worked on Horne's "17 achievements" document on state time, she said that if Beattie did so, she did so on her own time.
Regarding the allegation involving the use of a state car, Winn said Beattie "is not being accurate," and has her facts wrong.
Grisham later told me that Winn "at one time drove a state car from an official event to a campaign meeting on her lunch hour."
She says Winn was "formerly reprimanded," and had to "pay the state $10 to reimburse her mileage."
I asked if, considering the current allegations, as well as the AG's rather voluminous record of past unethical conduct, Horne would resign.
"Tom said he has no intention to resign," Grisham replied.
Told of Grisham's responses to Beattie's allegations, her attorney Tom Ryan had a few choice words.
"Facts are a stubborn thing," Ryan said. "Mr. Horne is entitled to his own opinion, but he is not entitled to his own set of facts. Sarah is speaking the truth, while Horne is palavering nothing more than truthiness.
"As to the threat of lawsuits they would be about defamation of character. Truth is an absolute defense to such claims.
"Sarah was well aware the Horne camp would try to throw the kitchen sink at her to get her to back off. That is why, in my opinion, Sarah Beattie is a real profile in courage, which is a lot more than what I can say for the scoundrels in the Horne camp."
Ryan also offered a warning shot for Horne and his lackeys.
"They do know she is submitting a report to State and Local authorities which carries immunity from liability, right? And threatening a witness who is going to the authorities could well be seen as witness tampering."
Ryan has already submitted a litigation hold letter to the AG's Office, and is preparing Beattie's complaint to the Secretary of State, which he says he will also submit to the Arizona Clean Elections Commission, which has certain investigatory powers, and the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, among others.
Ryan said Beattie did not intend to sue anyone, and had nothing to gain financially from coming forward.
Quite the opposite, actually. Any future career in politics she might want would be hurt by this.
As for himself, Ryan said he was volunteering his help to Beattie as a public service.
Why is Beattie granting interviews now, after canceling a press conference she and Ryan scheduled last week?
Beattie says she's been angered by a whisper campaign against her regarding her past, orchestrated by someone in the AG's office.
She admits to having a DUI on her record, to having done cocaine when she was younger, and to having once worked as a stripper.
All of which, she alleges AG employee Bret Mecum was attempting to peddle to other journalists, as evidence of her unreliability.
If so, that's highly ironic, given Mecum's tawdry past.
"I've never been shy about turning my life around," Beattie told me. "I don't think I'm the story. But on the off chance that some girl were to pick [up the story] and see how I was getting bashed for my past and think, `What's the incentive? Why turn my life around if I'm always going to be judged by what I'm doing at this moment?' I couldn't live with myself if I found out that was the case from some young girl."
She said she worked as a dancer from ages 18 to 20. In order to change her life, she moved to North Carolina, where her parents live, stayed for a year, and then returned to Arizona.
Beattie claimed the AG's Office was aware of her past, and she provided an e-mail to Kathleen Winn, reminding Winn to tell human resources about her DUI. She said she and Mecum were roommates briefly, and confided in each other.
I've asked Mecum if he has been spreading malicious gossip about Beattie. He did not answer the question, and said all inquiries should go through AG spokeswoman Grisham.
Grisham responded that she knew nothing about any malicious gossip being spread, and so couldn't comment on it.
Horne's Republican rival, former state gaming director Mark Brnovich, when asked about this latest spate of allegations against Horne, answered with tongue firmly in cheek.
"I don't know what I can say that would speak louder than his own actions," quipped Brnovich. "The best case that Tom Horne has ever made is clearly the one for early retirement."
If only that were in the offing.
Horne has zero credibility. Which by itself, helps Beattie's credibility almost as much as the physical evidence she brings to the table.
As far as the truth goes, I would hope that a court of law might one day determine that.
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But this is Arizona, after all, where the attorney general is as corrupt as they come, and has so far evaded any responsibility for his actions.
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