Feathered Bastard

Tom Horne's Rivals Felecia Rotellini and Mark Brnovich on Channel 3's Politics Unplugged

This Sunday, Channel 3's Politics Unplugged focused on Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne's legal woes, and featured the two candidates who'd like to replace him: Republican Mark Brnovich and Democrat Felecia Rotellini.

Brnovich aims to bump off Horne in the GOP primary, and Rotellini wants a general election re-match with Horne, who bested her by 60,000 votes statewide in 2010.

Both lamented the spectacle of our top prosecutor's being buttressed by criminal defense attorneys and having to face off against prosecutors from the Yavapai County Attorneys Office concerning allegations of campaign-finance shenanigans.

Rotellini, a former assistant Arizona attorney general and onetime head of the state's banking department, touted an ethics-in-government reform package that her campaign released the day after Horne testified.

"We need to give the campaign laws some teeth," she told Politics Unplugged host Dennis Welch. "We need to enhance the penalties by adding criminal sanctions and even removal from office [for violators].

"And we need to shed light on independent expenditures, which have become the playground of dirty politics, and dirty tricks, because they're done under a cloak of secrecy."

Welch asked Brnovich if he would like to see the law concerning "coordination" between candidates and independent-expenditure committees tightened up.

"I really don't think there's any confusion as to what the law is in this specific instance," Brnovich replied. "First week as a prosecutor, you learn there's an old saying, if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it is a duck.

"In these hearings, there's no allegation [Horne] misunderstood the law, he is basically denying it. Either he and [Horne's outreach director] Kathleen Winn are telling the truth or they are lying."

Check out the full video of Felecia Rotellini and Mark Brnovich on Channel 3's Politics Unplugged

Brnovich has raised a lot less money than Horne or Rotellini, but he acquits himself well on TV and on the campaign trail.

Both he and Rotellini are solid candidates, though Brnovich is true to the "R" next to his name. During the discussion, he mentioned that combating President Obama's "radical agenda" is one of his top three priorities for the AG's office.

A little red meat for the moon-howlers. But then, he is running in a GOP primary.

One interesting point raised by Welch: one of Horne's defense lawyers, the genteel Buddy Rake, has donated to her campaign.

Which is understandable. Attorneys often have to represent sleazy politicians like Horne, whether they support them or not.

The discussion of Horne's troubles afterward with former Phoenix mayoral candidate Wes Gullett and Kurt Davis of First Strategic is worth watching as well.

I liked Gullett's comments on Horne's lashing out at the media.

"He's reacting badly," Gullett said of Horne. "[Politicians] want to be in control. They don't want you to show up at a time when they're not completely in control. And, frankly, that's your job. You're supposed to be doing that."

Well put. The press should be dogging Horne's every step as long as he's in the AG's office. If Horne doesn't like it, he should contemplate a permanent return to private practice before his almost-inevitable political demise later this year.

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