Tom Horne in Handcuffs: Bill Montgomery Can and Should Get Arizona's Attorney General

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In Arizona, you've got to get the justice you can when you can get it.

That's because in this state, particularly when it comes to public corruption or the abuse of power, you might as well wait for Godot if you think the wicked will be punished as part of the natural order of things.

Take for example, immigrant-chasin' Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who for all of his misdeeds over the years, richly deserves to be under a prison somewhere.

Consider all the wrongful deaths in Joe's jails, the use of his office to target his critics and political opponents, the violation of the civil rights of others under the color of law (a federal crime, natch), the lies, the cover-ups.

Don't tell me there isn't enough evidence of Joe's crimes. There's evidence aplenty. How do I know?

Because New Times has been compiling it almost from the time Arpaio took office more than two decades ago.

But politics and prosecutors go hand-in-hand. Which is why I believe the U.S. Attorney's Office wussed out in 2012 on going after Arpaio criminally after a four-year investigation into the sheriff and his henchmen, past and present, at the MCSO.

As with a lot of things, the Obama Administration didn't have the huevos for it.

Which is why Arpaio's 2013 defeat in the ACLU's big racial-profiling case Melendres v. Arpaio is so important.

We may never see Arpaio in a pair of his own pink boxers, but as a result of Melendres, we do have a court-appointed monitor overseeing a federal judge's dictate that Arpaio end his racial-profiling ways.

In other words, we got the best justice we could get, no thanks to the feds.

Same goes for a host of other Sand Land scoundrels.

Former state Senate President Russell Pearce's obituary will tell the tale of his historic recall from office, for instance.

Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu's legacy will always include his semi-nude selfies for the gay pickup site Adam4Adam.com.

Sure, he remains a sheriff, but he could've been a congressman, remember? Hopefully, if enough folks recall his undocumented Mexican boyfriend, he'll never be anything more than a sheriff of a backward-ass county.

Then there's Candy Andy Thomas, whose current claims in his gubernatorial campaign of standing up to the "gay lobby," delivered in his whiny voice, make him sound like Arizona's answer to Marcus Bachmann.

Sure, it's galling that this creepy weasel scored $754,000 in public money from the Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission for his run in this year's GOP gubernatorial primary.

That's the best argument to date for completely scrapping the state's clean-elections system, by the way. Jesus, people, $754K could by a lot of sneakers for needy tykes.

If there were any real justice here in Cactus Country, the ex-county attorney would be sharing an un-air-conditioned cell with Arpaio's hefty, onetime top hatchetman David Hendershott.

Thomas abused his power while in office, pursued bogus charges against anyone who got in his or his pal Arpaio's way, including a superior court judge, county supervisors, and even the former owners of this newspaper.

Sure, those involved got to sue and score settlements, but that didn't come out of Thomas' pocket.

What we got was Thomas' 2012 disbarment. I know, it ain't jail stripes, but the guy went to Harvard Law, for cryin' out loud. Talk about a comeuppance.

Which brings us to Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne, who apparently was separated from his moral compass at birth.

Horne is alleged to have done so much illegal stuff in the past four years, it's a testament to this state's lackadaisical attitude toward misdeeds in high office that he remains Arizona's top law enforcement official.

He hired his mistress, Carmen Chenal, to a $108,000 per year salary as an assistant, tried to cover it up with an internal witch-hunt targeting leakers, allegedly suggested the destruction of public records and, with them, evidence of wrongdoing, allegedly tampered with witnesses, allegedly obstructed justice.

Moreover, two Republican county attorneys have concluded that Horne and his loyal hench-woman, Kathleen Winn, the AG's outreach director, violated campaign-finance law.

If those county attorneys are right, it follows that Horne's denials of wrongdoing under oath during a hearing into the matter were lies, otherwise known as perjury.

More recent allegations from Horne's former staffer Sarah Beattie involve Horne's making the AG's office his de facto re-election headquarters in violation of both state and federal law.

There are additional allegations involving Horne's ordering the destruction of public records, and again, along with it, evidence of wrongdoing.

Then there's the allegation of intimidation of witnesses, specifically Beattie, the victim of a smear campaign by Horne loyalists after she left the AG's employ.

The Arizona Secretary of State's Office, run by a Republican, has found probable cause to believe there's been wrongdoing by Horne. The SOS referred the matter to the state Solicitor General, who in turn appointed a former judge and a Gilbert attorney to conduct an investigation.

The state's clean-elections commission is investigating Horne. Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk still is after Horne on the old campaign-finance case, and the FBI and the Maricopa County Attorney's Office are investigating the most recent allegations from the Beattie affair.

Horne's defense attorney, Michael Kimerer, renowned for springing convicted kid-killer Debra Milke from death row, recently has sought to block the MCAO's probe in Superior Court, arguing that because County Attorney Bill Montgomery supports Horne's primary foe, Mark Brnovich, and has said Horne should resign, Montgomery's office cannot investigate the AG.

Montgomery says he's screened off from the investigation, which is what usually happens in such cases. But in his court filing, Kimerer suggests a "revenge motive" for Montgomery and his underlings.

Kimerer writes that the MCAO's top investigator, Commander Mark Stribling, "has been contacting some witnesses in this case, relaying that if they do not talk with him they will be summoned before a grand jury."

If so, sounds good to me. Though when it comes to Horne, I suspect the MCAO is guided more by disgust than revenge.

Some, including the Arizona Republic's Laurie Roberts, argue that Horne is correct in this matter, that Montgomery's employees cannot help but do Montgomery's bidding.

Which is an unwise assumption. Stribling, for instance, balked at following unethical orders from Thomas and Thomas' now-disbarred hatchet-lady Lisa Aubuchon, when they were in power.

Indeed, the disciplinary panel that punished Thomas and Aubuchon noted in its report that Stribling refused to allow one of his detectives to file false bribery charges against Superior Court Judge Gary Donahoe, because there was no probable cause to support the complaint.

Knowing that, I doubt Stribling's going to blindly do anyone's bidding.

I suppose if we were in some enlightened corner of the world, I might agree, pinky raised, with Roberts about fighting for justice with Marquess of Queensbury rules.

Alas, we dwell in a benighted realm where the guilty rarely get their just deserts. So I want Montgomery's minions to put this case before a grand jury and indict Tom Horne and his accomplices.

Is Montgomery an imperfect instrument? Maybe, but so what?

I remember when Horne barely bested Thomas in the 2010 GOP primary for AG. Horne was the imperfect instrument then, but he blocked an unhinged ideologue from taking office.

Better a scummy scandal-magnet than a power-mad psychopath.

Now we must rid our political house of this skunk Horne.

And if Montgomery's office can cage that rascally varmint and banish him to the wild (or worse), well, the first round of drinks is on me.

E-mail stephen.lemons@newtimes.com.

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