Feathered Bastard

Tom Horne's Unwanted Holiday Gift from the Arizona Public Integrity Alliance

Our ethics-challenged Attorney General, Tom Horne, received an unwanted gift over the holidays from his bete noir, the Arizona Public Integrity Alliance, the conservative nonprofit that he hit with a short-lived defamation suit last year.

The folks at AZPIA tell me that around 60,000 mailers critical of Horne went out the week before Christmas, targeting the districts of legislators who sit on the ethics committees of the state House and Senate, as well as the LDs of the leadership, the idea being to, hopefully, get the Legislature on Horne's case.

Warning of "Chicago-style politics" and "backroom deals," the flyer's obverse features a hunched Nixonian figure, seen from the back, whispering into a telephone. On the reverse, there's a pic of a hangdog Horne, and an image of a sinister, disembodied hand holding a lit cigarette. (Nice touch.)

Readers receive a rundown of a few of Horne's iniquities, such as the hiring of a political "crony" to a job on the taxpayer's dime at a salary of $108,000 per year, and alleged campaign finance shenanigans that prompted an FBI probe and the FBI's revelation that this crony also was Horne's alleged mistress.

"[T]he Attorney General's Office," states the mailer, "maintains a contract with a law firm that hired Tom Horne's alleged mistress and whose partners contributed to Tom Horne's political campaign. It is a sordid story that wastes Arizona taxpayers' money and smells like Chicago-style corruption."

That "contract" is a reference to one held by attorney Dennis Wilenchik, who hired Carmen Chenal, the crony mentioned above, after she left the AG's Office.

Recipients are encouraged to contact their state legislators and demand reforms of the AG's Office.

Wishful thinking, no doubt. But when there's a skunk in your backyard, do you cede your property to the varmint or do your best to set him runnin' for cover?

The AZPIA-ers promise that more mailers and ads are on the way, to flush Horne from his hole.

Meanwhile, AZPIA's Xmas mailers attest to the dismal failure of Horne's attempted SLAPP suit against AZPIA, and of his failed campaign finance complaint regarding AZPIA to the Arizona Secretary of State's Office.

Horne withdrew the suit after AZPIA issued an apology for a tiny factual error in its initial advertising (literally, the "error" turned on the tense of a verb).

The campaign finance complaint was rejected by the SOS' Office.

Inexplicably, some dunderheads in our local fourth estate interpreted this mundane "oops" as a win for the AG, though Horne did not stop the AZPIA, which continues its righteous skunk hunt, as this latest mailer attests.

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