Feathered Bastard

Tom Horne's Hearings Rescheduled: Will the AG Beat the Rap?

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Administrative law hearings can be pretty casual affairs. This one was unusually cordial.

In it, lawyers for Horne, Winn and the county attorney discussed procedural matters with Eigenheer, and put off the scheduled, six day January 22 hearing on the alleged campaign finance violation, at least till February 25.

Two issues need to be resolved, according to the law hounds: the definition of what "coordination" consists of, and whether the county attorney has jurisdiction over this alleged violation of Arizona law by Winn and Horne.

"The proper procedures," Kimerer wrote in his pre-hearing statement for Horne, "would have the Attorney General's Office, not the attorney general himself, appointing a neutral party to do the investigation and prosecution. That statutory procedure was not followed in this case."

Translation? Horne should get off on a technicality, because, Kimerer argues, according to state statute, Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett should have sent his probable cause letter signaling that a violation had occurred to the Attorney General's office, not to the county attorney.

Here's the way the investigation unfolded.

First, Horne ordered an investigation into an assumed mole in the AG's office, one he suspected of feeding me info on his relationship to Chenal.

The AG's investigator uncovered evidence of unrelated wrongdoing by Horne. She turned it over to the FBI.

The FBI investigated it, in part with the help of the Maricopa County Attorney's Office. The FBI then turned its entire file over to the county attorney and the U.S. Attorney's Office.

The U.S. Attorney's Office for Arizona choked, like it always does when faced with allegations big-time public corruption.

Per Arizona statute, the MCAO sent the investigation to Ken Bennett, and Bennett sent Monty a letter telling him that, "this office has reasonable cause to believe that Attorney General Horne and Kathleen Winn have violated [state campaign finance law]."

The SOS's letter states that the AG "declared a conflict to my office on April 16, 2012," and that pursuant to a law recently passed by the legislature, the SOS has the authority to choose counsel other than Horne, who would normally enforce campaign finance law in this instance.

So the SOS chose Monty's office as the prosecuting entity.

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