PHOENIX (AP) — The Yavapai County Attorney’s Office will investigate allegations that Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne and one of his aides violated campaign-finance laws during Horne’s 2010 election campaign.
Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk will oversee the case, The Arizona Republic reported Wednesday.
Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery accused Horne and Kathleen Winn of collaborating to quickly raise more than $500,000 to fund negative ads targeting Horne’s Democratic opponent during the 2010 election.
By law, candidates are not allowed to coordinate certain activities with independent expenditure committees.
Horne, a Republican, defeated ex-prosecutor and bank regulator Felicia Rotellini by about 63,000 votes out of a total of 1.6 million ballots cast in the 2010 general election.
Horne and Winn say they did nothing wrong and that authorities have misinterpreted evidence.
Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett sent a letter on June 27 to Arizona Solicitor General Rob Ellman, asking him to notify the Secretary of State’s Office of the law enforcement agency selected to investigate Horne.
The letter was obtained by The Republic through a public records request.
The same day, Ellman sent the case to Polk. Ellman reports to Horne.
Stephanie Grisham, a spokeswoman for the solicitor general and Horne’s office, said Horne was not involved in the decision to send the case to Yavapai County.
“In anticipation of receiving the notification of reasonable cause, Mr. Ellman determined that justice would best be served by delegating the AG’s statutory authority to an independent, outside attorney who possesses sufficient experience, judgment and professionalism to soundly address the matters raised in the Secretary of State’s notification letter,” Grisham said in a statement.
Montgomery pursued a civil-enforcement action, but a judge ruled in May that the case couldn’t move forward because of legal technicalities and procedural failings by the Secretary of State’s Office, which found reasonable cause exists to believe a campaign-finance violation occurred.
“The fact that the matter is back in the hands of an enforcement officer for review does indicate that we are back on track,” Montgomery, a Republican, said Wednesday. “Certainly Republican primary voters but also citizens of Arizona need to know whether or not there was a violation and see how it gets resolved.”