PHOENIX — An attorney representing Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne and
a top aide failed to convince a judge Friday that a lawsuit seeking to declare
the state’s limits on political contributions unconstitutionally low should be
The effort by Kathleen Winn, argued by Horne’s lawyer, is part of an attempt to
derail a campaign finance violation case they both are facing.
Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Sally Duncan instead ruled that the pair
must first battle the illegal campaign coordination case filed by Yavapai County
Attorney Sheila Polk in October. She found the same in an October ruling that
dismissed the suit.
Winn works as the attorney general’s community outreach and education director.
She and Horne are accused of illegally coordinating spending in his 2010
election while she ran an independent committee called Business Leaders for
Arizona. They deny those allegations.
Horne has asked to be a party to Winn’s suit but has not formally joined it
yet. Horne’s lawyer, Michael Kimerer, argued the case Friday because Winn’s
lawyer wasn’t available.
“No one should be subject to going through any kind of proceeding if you have
an unconstitutional statute,” Kimerer said after Duncan ruled. “Why should you
be accused and put into the system and run through the ringer if you don’t have
something that’s constitutional, if it’s totally wrong to begin with.”
The lawsuit named Secretary of State Ken Bennett, the state’s chief election
officer, as a defendant. Bennett and his office are represented by private
attorney Joseph Kanefield.
Statewide office-seekers could accept donations of only $840 per person in
2010, and they are barred from accepting corporate and union money. Winn argues
the limits were so low that Horne could not respond to an aggressive attack by
an outside group backing his opponent.
Kanefield said if needed he was prepared to show that the limits don’t crimp a
candidate’s ability to run a competitive election and are therefore
Horne and Winn face an administrative hearing in February in the campaign
Polk in October ordered Horne to return nearly $400,000 to donors and amend his
campaign finance reports after finding there is evidence he violated campaign
finance laws during his 2010 run for office. Polk also is seeking civil
penalties amounting to three times the amount.
Polk found reasonable cause to believe Horne and Winn worked together to raise
about $500,000 through the Business Leaders for Arizona group she chaired.
Both strongly deny they illegally coordinated the spending.
Horne, a Republican, is the state’s top law enforcement officer. He defeated
Democrat Felecia Rotellini, a former prosecutor and bank regulator, by
approximately 63,000 votes out of a total of 1.6 million ballots cast in the
2010 general election for attorney general. Horne faces a GOP challenger next
year, and Rotellini also is running again.
Facing a tough election challenge in 2010, Horne and Winn allegedly worked
together to raise money for the outside group she headed to pay for negative ads
Winn argued that despite Horne’s best efforts, he was able to raise only
$540,000, compared with his Democratic opponent’s $699,000.
When an outside group began spending $1.5 million attacking Horne, the group
Winn headed raised money to counter those efforts.