PHOENIX –Attorney General Tom Horne came under repeated attack over his
many legal issues during a combative debate with his Republican primary opponent
Monday night as they sparred on topics such as ethics, integrity and legal
qualifications to be the state’s chief law enforcement officer.
Horne boasted of his record fighting the Obama administration in court and
going after drug cartels, and said his legal problems were the result of attacks
from the “liberal press.” Brnovich accused Horne of a “Nixonian” mentality
as he constantly blames others for his problems.
“We cannot afford to have an attorney general that’s constantly under
investigation. He spends more time in a courtroom as a defendant than he does
litigating cases,” Brnovich said in the 30-minute televised debate.
“Unfortunately, Tom has been distracted by his legal and ethical problems. It’s
hard to be an effective attorney general when you’re constantly mired in
Horne is facing two investigations into allegations that he illegally used his
staff to run his re-election campaign.
He is suing to block the investigation by the Citizens Clean Elections
Commission, which could order him removed from office. Horne has said the
commission doesn’t have the authority to enforce election laws for candidates
not participating in Arizona’s public campaign financing system.
Horne already is appealing a finding by Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk
that he and a top aide illegally coordinated spending by an outside group
supporting his 2010 election bid.
“We are happy to go to court,” said Horne, noting that he has tried cases for
more than 30 years and won two cases before the U.S. Supreme Court last year
that saved Arizona millions of dollars.
“I have a long record of fighting the Obama administration overreach,” Horne
Horne also said he’s won 14 previous elections and called Brnovich “a minor
leaguer” who “can’t compete in a general election” and “has no achievements
he can point to.”
Brnovich previously served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of
Arizona, focusing on federal gambling-related crimes.
He was state Department of Gaming director for four years until resigning in
October to run for the office of Arizona’s top prosecutor. He has the
endorsement of Gov. Jan Brewer.
“We want an attorney general with integrity and character. I will put my
ethics up against Tom,” Brnovich said. “At some point, you’re responsible for
what you do. You just can’t keep blaming other people for your problems.”
Whoever wins the Republican primary will face Democrat Felecia Rotellini in
November. Horne beat Rotellini by about 4 percent of the votes cast in the 2010