Arizona GOP school boss candidate returns disgraced former lawmaker’s contribution

Aug 31, 2022, 10:52 AM | Updated: 9:53 pm

From left, David Stringer (AP File Photo) and Tom Horne (Facebook Photo)...

From left, David Stringer (AP File Photo) and Tom Horne (Facebook Photo)

(Facebook Photo)

PHOENIX – Tom Horne, the GOP candidate for Arizona superintendent of public instruction, said he has refunded disgraced former state lawmaker David Stringer’s campaign contribution.

According to state campaign finance records available as of Wednesday morning, Stringer provided a $1,400 in-kind contribution to Horne’s campaign on May 20. Horne’s last finance report was filed July 18.

According to Arizona’s campaign finance candidate guide, “In-kind contributions are non-monetary benefits, including goods, services or anything else of value that are provided to a candidate committee without charge or at less than the usual and normal charge.”

It’s not clear what Stringer provided for Horne’s campaign or how Horne refunded it.

Horne’s announcement came after he publicly defended Stringer against decades-old allegations of child molestation in recent interviews, including one with KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Gaydos and Chad Show.

Stringer resigned from the Arizona House in 2019 amid an ethics investigation following newspaper reports that he was charged with child sex crimes in Baltimore in 1983.

He was accused of paying teenage boys for sex acts, according to documents released by the House Ethics Committee after he stepped down. ABC15 reported that Stringer pleaded to lesser charges and was sentenced to five years of probation and 1,040 hours of community service. The case was ultimately expunged.

“If I thought there was even a fraction of 1% chance that he was guilty of that accusation, I would not have accepted a contribution from him,” Horne told Gaydos and Chad on Monday. The next day, Horne tweeted that he was returning Stringer’s contribution.

At the time of his resignation three years ago, Stringer was also under investigation over controversial comments on race and immigration.

Horne has been under fire since Friday, when AZ Family reported on Stringer’s connection to his campaign.

When reporter Morgan Loew asked Horne if Stringer was “associated” with his campaign, Horne said “absolutely” and added that Stringer was “completely innocent of the charges against him.”

The interview became fodder for attacks from Democrats, including his opponent in November’s general election, incumbent Superintendent Kathy Hoffman.

In Tuesday’s tweet saying he was refunding Stringer’s contribution, Horne said, “That in-kind donation was the only association he ever had with our committee. He is not involved with our campaign.”

That came a day after Horne appeared on Gaydos and Chad and said, “He’s made a couple of contributions and he arranged for some signs to be put up in Prescott, and that’s it.”

Horne also continued to defend Stringer, citing the fact that he hadn’t been disbarred as a lawyer over the child sex allegations.

“He would not be practicing law if there was any chance that he was guilty of child molestation,” Horne said.

Horne’s wife has provided legal representation to Stringer, which “brought home to me that he really is innocent,” Horne said.

Horne, who won the Republican nomination for superintendent of public instruction during the Aug. 2 primary, is attempting to make a political comeback.

He served two terms as school superintendent before successfully running for state attorney general in 2010.

As attorney general, Horne was dogged by allegations of campaign-finance violations and the revelation of a hit-and-run incident in a Phoenix parking garage and an extramarital affair.

His reelection bid ended with a primary loss to Mark Brnovich in the 2014 GOP primary.

Correction: An earlier version of this story implied that Stringer had made a cash donation to Horne’s campaign. Campaign finance reports available as of Wednesday show only an in-kind contribution, and it’s not clear what Stringer provided for Horne’s campaign.

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Arizona GOP school boss candidate returns disgraced former lawmaker’s contribution