On June 27, 2013, the Arizona Secretary of State issued a letter to the Arizona Attorney General’s Office stating that reasonable cause exists to believe that Kathleen Winn, an independent expenditure committee, and Tom Horne (Arizona’s Attorney General) violated campaign finance laws.
On June 27, 2013, the Arizona Attorney General’s Office, through Solicitor General Robert Ellman, appointed Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk to fulfill the Attorney General’s role as described in A.R.S. § 16-924. On Thursday, Polk issued an Order Requiring Compliance pursuant to A.R.S. § 16-924(A) to Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne individually; the Tom Horne for Attorney General Committee; Kathleen Winn, individually; and the an independent expenditure committee, Business Leaders for Arizona.
Tom Horne ran for and was elected to the office of Arizona Attorney General in 2010. Business Leaders for Arizona, through its Chair, Kathleen Winn, was formed as an independent expenditure committee.
The Order found that Business Leaders for Arizona and Kathleen Winn coordinated their activities with Tom Horne and the Horne Campaign in order to advocate the defeat of Horne’s opponent in the 2010 General Election, Felicia Rotellini. A political committee may not make “an expenditure that expressly advocates the election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate,” according to Polk.
The Order directs Tom Horne and the Horne Campaign to amend their 2010 Post-General election report to include the expenditures made by Business Leaders for Arizona. The Order directs Kathleen Winn and Business Leaders for Arizona to amend their 2010 Post-General Election Report to reflect the coordinated nature of Business Leaders for Arizona’s expenditures.
Horne and the Horne Campaign are further ordered to refund the amount of the deemed in-kind contributions in excess of the appropriate limits to the persons or organizations that made the contributions. In addition, Horne and the Horne Campaign are ordered to fully refund the in-kind contributions from corporations because they were unlawful in their entirety. The total amount ordered to be refunded is $397,378.
The parties may request a hearing on the matter also within 20 days.
Finally, the Order states that if Horne, Winn, the Horne Campaign, and/or Business Leaders for Arizona fail to take the ordered corrective action within twenty days, the Yavapai County Attorney will issue an Order Assessing a Civil Penalty pursuant to A.R.S. § 16-924(B). The violation of the contribution limits carries a civil penalty of three times the amount of money of the violation.
In 2012, the Arizona Republic reported that investigators found e-mails and phone records showing Horne was intimately involved with Business Leaders for Arizona, which raised and spent more than $500,000 to run TV ads blasting Rotellini, in the closing days of the tight race.
“There were contemporaneous e-mails and telephone conversations on how much money was expected from this particular source of funds, and what … needed to be the message, concerns over the content of the commercial in production, and active communications about why maybe some of the messaging needed to be changed,” Montgomery said to the Republic.
Horne has had a difficult year. He was caught with his mistress after hitting a car in a parking lot and leaving the scene. At the time, he was being trailed by FBI agents. He is being challenged in the Republican Primary by the popular former Department of Gaming Director, Mark Brnovich.