Much of Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne's executive office staff is involved in "substantial campaigning" for his 2014 re-election, "while on state time and utilizing State resources."
This, according to a litigation hold letter made public Monday by Chandler attorney Tom Ryan, who represents former AG employee and ex-Horne campaign volunteer Sarah Beattie.
You'll recall that Beattie recently quit her position with the AG's constituent services division, complaining in a resignation note that Horne's office is "not following campaign laws or finance laws."
In the hold letter, Ryan asserts that Beattie's allegations could "represent a substantial violation of State and Federal laws which prohibit such conduct," and advises Horne to preserve from destruction all documents pertaining to the allegations.
Ryan also offers as evidence of Beattie's charges a campaign flier, which he says was created in the AG's office for a Horne fundraiser, featuring former Republican Attorney General of Virginia and ex-gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli.
Of this exhibit, Ryan states:
By way of example you will find attached to this letter as Exhibit 1 is a flyer for your campaign for a Ken Cuccinelli fundraiser for December 5, 2013. This flyer was distributed by Debra Scordato in an email to members of your Executive Office staff. The metadata for the Cuccinelli flyer shows that it was created by "Brett", who upon information and belief is Brett Mecum of your Executive Office staff.
This was created on "11/18/2013 at 3:57p.m." and last modified by "Brett" on "11/18/2013 at 4:30 p.m." Upon information and belief this was created during working hours in the Executive Office suite by Mr. Mecum in conjunction with other Executive Office staff members.
This is just but one of many examples I have learned of improper use of the Executive Office for campaigning for your 2014 re-election process. I have also learned of at least one instance of an order to delete emails related to campaigning that occurred during Executive Office hours and in the Executive Office suite. These facts are deeply concerning to the citizens of the State of Arizona.
See also: -Tom Horne's Office in Free Fall over Allegations of Using Public Office, Staff for Campaign Purposes -Tom Horne Gets Help From "Studboi1," a.k.a. Paul Babeu, as Well as Steven Seagal, Joe Arpaio, Kris Kobach, Russell Pearce
Ryan says he was asked by counsel for the Arizona Secretary of State to provide any knowledge that his client has of possible violations of the law. He states that he will "comply with that request by serving that letter tomorrow Tuesday, May 6, 2014."
The AG's office has yet to respond to my request for a comment on Ryan's letter.
When I asked Ryan about the seriousness of these charges, he called for Horne's immediate resignation.
"Mr. Horne should resign and withdraw from the 2014 campaign," Ryan told me. "He is not fit for public office. He has taken a once proud part of our state government and turned it into his personal election campaign machine.
"We believe the evidence will show that Mr. Horne had unbridled use of the Executive Office staff, services, equipment and more for personal use in his campaign. We will set forth more fully the evidence in our response to the Secretary of State which we intend to file tomorrow."
Last week, video of Horne staffer Brett Mecum surfaced, purportedly showing Mecum dropping off a campaign-related complaint to the SOS on February 11.
Before the video was disclosed, I asked Mecum if he had filed the document in question.
Mecum insisted that, "I filed no complaint," and that he never does campaign work on state time.
When I asked him about the contradiction, after the video was released, he insisted there was none.
Like they say, denial ain't just a river in Egypt, baby.
Interestingly, earlier today (Monday) I happened to be reading a September 5, 2013 memo from Mary Jo Foster, Special Counsel for Ethics & Training in the Arizona Solicitor General's Office, which is part of the Arizona AG's office.
Titled, "Limitations on Political and Campaign Activities of AGO Employee," the memo makes clear that all AG employees are forbidden from using state resources for campaign purposes.
"Although public officers and employees may engage in certain types of political activity," it states, "no public resources may be used for this purpose.
"No public employee may participate in any political or campaign work while on the public's time, use public facilities, materials, and equipment for political or campaign activity, or travel at public expense for non-public purposes."
The memo supposedly was sent to all AG employees at the time.
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Reckon Horne got his copy?
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