PHOENIX — An Arizona administrative law judge concluded Monday there is
not enough evidence to find Republican Attorney General Tom Horne broke civil
campaign finance law during his 2010 election campaign.
Prosecutors didn’t prove Horne illegally coordinated campaign spending with an
aide who was running an independent group during his 2010 election bid, Judge
Tammy Eigenheer ruled.
Yavapai County prosecutors had argued that they showed during a civil hearing
in February that Horne and aide Kathleen Winn broke campaign-finance law by
working together on outside ads targeting Horne’s Democratic opponent in the
weeks before the November 2010 election won by the Republican attorney general.
Prosecutors wanted Horne to repay $400,000 to donors and up to three times that
amount in civil fines.
Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk has 30 days to accept, reject or modify the
ruling and could reinstate the civil violation order.
“The judge’s decision is lengthy and detailed,” Polk said in a statement. “I
will carefully review it and make my decision within 30 days.”
Horne called the decision a complete victory.
“I think it vindicated what we’ve been saying all along, that there was no
coordination,” Horne said.
He also said he did not settle the case despite its potential political
consequences as he seeks re-election because Polk would have required an
admission of guilt, which he would not do.
“The fact is I did not do anything wrong, so even if I decided intellectually
that it was in my interests to settle, I would not have been able to get those
words though my throat,” Horne said.
Winn was ecstatic.
“I’m very happy — this is the outcome we were hoping for,” Winn said. “I
have been pretty steadfast from the beginning that I didn’t coordinate with AG
Horne and I’m elated with the ruling.”
She said she’s worked with Polk, respects her and hopes she accepts the judge’s
“She had her attorneys in the courtroom … and I would hope that she stands
with what this administrative law judge says,” Winn said.
Lawyers for Horne and Winn said prosecutors failed to show any real evidence
that the pair broke campaign finance laws.
They also argued that an FBI agent who investigated the case committed perjury
and his testimony should be thrown out. Eigenheer rejected that request.
Horne himself testified that he “absolutely never” had illegal communications
“We absolutely never coordinated or violated any of the laws,” he said. “I
absolutely never did coordinate with Kathleen Winn.”
Eigenheer, a judge in the Arizona Office of Administrative Hearings, oversaw
the three days of testimony in February.
Polk determined in October that Horne violated the law and ordered the
repayments and the filing of amended campaign-finance reports. Horne and Winn
appealed the finding
Horne and Winn could appeal any possible decision by Polk reinstating the case,
dragging any final conclusion into the election season, when Horne faces a
challenger in August’s Republican primary as he seeks a second term. If he wins
the primary, he’ll likely face the same Democrat he narrowly defeated in 2010,
Felecia Rotellini, a former prosecutor and bank regulator.
Horne and Winn were accused of working together on a campaign ad targeting
Rotellini that was paid for by an independent group Winn was running, Business
Leaders for Arizona. Such coordination would be illegal in Arizona.
Prosecutors said a series of phone calls and emails in the weeks leading up to
the election showed that Horne was having material input on the campaign ads and
strategy that Winn was overseeing. Horne and Winn acknowledged the calls and
emails but said they were either speaking about an unrelated real estate deal or
engaged in legal campaign fundraising.
Eigenheer said there just was no smoking gun and the prosecutors’
circumstantial case was not strong enough.
“While there are inferences that can be made, there are also reasonable
explanations that the communications related to Mr. Horne’s real estate
transaction that was pending at the same time,” the judge wrote.
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