Primary Day 2014: Bums Bounced, Dems Given Openings to Exploit

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The primary appeal of former state gaming director Mark Brnovich, Horne's vanquisher, has been that he's not Tom Horne, who is currently being investigated by the FBI, the Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission, and the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, among other agencies.

Originally, Horne did not anticipate spending any money in the primary, privately telling AG staffers that he planned to spend 90 percent of his money on TV ads (presumably in the general election) and just 10 percent on overhead.

This plan resulted in his using full-time AG staffers as campaign hacks, creating the genesis of his second major scandal, involving potential violations of federal and state laws prohibiting the use of official resources for campaign purposes.

But Horne's first scandal dated to 2010 and allegations that he illegally coordinated with an independent expenditure committee run by his outreach director Kathleen Winn.

Currently, Horne and Winn face an order by Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk to pay back $400,000 in illegal contributions received in 2010 by Winn's group Business Leaders for Arizona, or face treble damages. The two are fighting the case in superior court.

Horne's second major scandal erupted this year, when AG employee and Horne campaign fundraiser Sarah Beattie resigned her position in the AG's executive office and quickly became the subject of a smear campaign, when her resignation note, expressing fear for her "legal well-being," was leaked to the press.

As a result, Beattie went to the Irish wolfhound of Arizona election law, Chandler attorney Tom Ryan, with allegations that Horne was using the AG's office as his re-election headquarters, in violation of both the federal Hatch Act and Arizona's mini-Hatch Act statutes.

Beattie swore under oath that she fundraised while on the state clock at Horne's direction, and claimed other AG employees did campaign work on the people's dime.

Additionally, there were allegations of destruction of public records and the intimidation of witnesses, namely Beattie.

A professional fundraiser and a rather smart cookie, Beattie had more than her word. She had a plethora of e-mails and documents backing up her claims, all of which Ryan turned over to the Fourth Estate, as well as to various investigative agencies.

Beattie, when interviewed by the media, came across as forthright and honest, so her accusations rang true.

After all, this was the same attorney general who hired his mistress Carmen Chenal to a six-figure salary as an assistant AG in the criminal division, the same one who allegedly had suggested destruction of evidence and obstruction of justice in an internal AG investigation, prompted by articles penned by yours truly about Chenal.

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