Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
Another day, another political scandal in Arizona. Maybe we should build a prison for our politicians and the corporate lobbyists they serve.
The chief law enforcement officer of the state of Arizona, our Attorney General Tom "banned for life by the SEC" Horne, is under investigation by the FBI for campaign finance law violations. Oh, like nobody saw this coming -- a leopard doesn't change his spots. Attorney General Tom Horne under investigation:
The FBI is investigating whether Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne illegally worked with an independent expenditure committee that raised and spent more than $500,000 in 2010 to run negative ads against his Democratic challenger.
The Republic learned that Horne was under investigation by federal officials about two months ago, but could only determine that it was tied to Horne's possible illegal involvement in an independent expenditure committee created in 2010.
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A complaint was filed in February by a whistle-blower, who worked for Horne. Former prosecutor Don Dybus -- who also worked on Horne's campaign -- alleged Horne worked with the committee and later hired the chairwoman.
The complaint was filed in February, and the Arizona Secretary of State's Office released it Monday.
The complaint http://www.azcentral.com/ic/pdf/0402-horne-complaint.pdf
A spokesman for the Secretary of State's Office said the complaint was forwarded to a law-enforcement agency, but would not specify which. The Republic has learned the complaint was forwarded to the FBI.
The complaint alleges that Horne coordinated with Business Leaders for Arizona, which raised thousands of dollars from Horne's brother-in-law Richard Newman.
The complaint also alleges that Horne and his campaign were actively engaged with the independent expenditure committee and once elected, that he rewarded its director, Kathleen Winn, by naming her director of community outreach for the Tucson office. Winn earns $98,134 a year.
Dybus alleges that Horne, Winn, Newman and Republican political consultant Nathan Sproul, who raised money for the committee, colluded to raise money for the committee and Horne's consulting group "provided active and regular campaign advice directly to Horne throughout the election cycle."
Oh, you just knew that the GOP's voter suppression expert Nathan Sproul, who has been under investigation several times in several states over the past decade, would be at the center of this scandal. Maybe this time law enforcement will finally prosecute him. Those of us in the election integrity community have been waiting for this moment for years.
The Arizona Capitol Times (subscription required) has more details. FBI investigating Tom Horne for campaign violations - Arizona Capitol Times:
Dybus said in the complaint that he believes Winn, Horne, his brother-in-law, and political consultant Nathan Sproul, who worked for BLA, all violated state or federal campaign laws. In his letter to Secretary of State Ken Bennett that accompanied his complaint, Dybus invoked whistleblower protections and said Bennett should feel free to pass his contact information along to the FBI or U.S. Department of Justice.
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Among the allegations Dybus made is that Horne worked in conjunction with Winn, BLA and Sproul, whose firm Lincoln Strategy Group, worked for BLA, to arrange a $115,000 contribution from Horne’s brother-in-law, Richard G. Newman, of Santa Monica, Calif., to the independent expenditure. Newman is married to Horne’s sister, Christine.
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In his complaint, Dybus suggested that prosecutors should give Winn immunity and get her to testify under oath against Horne in an effort to force him to resign as attorney general.
Dybus said Sproul also regularly provided campaign advice to Horne in 2010, despite his work for BLA. He also alleged Sproul secured a $350,000 contribution to BLA from the Republican State Leadership Committee, a Virginia-based campaign committee.
Sproul denied the allegations against him in the complaint.
“I did not coordinate efforts between Business Leaders of Arizona and Tom Horne, his campaign or agents of his campaign. In fact, it is just the opposite. I have never met Kathleen Winn and never communicated with her in any way. I was not involved with her in this or any other effort,” he said.
In 2011, Horne hired one of Sproul’s employees, Courtney Coolidge, as a special projects coordinator.
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Dybus alleged violations of two state laws and one federal law. He said Horne, Newman, Sproul and Winn violated Arizona law prohibiting coordination between candidates and independent expenditures. Horne violated a law prohibiting “trading in public office” by giving Winn a job in exchange for her work for BLA, Dybus wrote. Winn violated the same law because as a Republican precinct committeewoman in legislative District 19, she was an elected officer as well, the complaint states.
Dybus also accused Horne of violating a federal law that makes it illegal for a candidate for any elected office that receives federal funds – a group that includes Arizona attorney general – to promise employment for political help. That law carries a maximum penalty of one year in prison.
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Dybus, who has a history of fighting against political corruption, clearly became disenchanted with Horne. As counsel to the clerk of the circuit court in Cook County, Ill. in the late 1980s, Dybus implemented a code of ethics for all court employees. His appointment as counsel to the clerk of the court followed a massive scandal in which dozens of sitting judges in the Chicago area were indicted on federal corruption charges.
The timing of Dybus’ complaint also raises questions about recent changes Horne made to several 2010 campaign finance reports. Horne amended the reports in late March to show an additional $17,000 in contributions to his campaign.
On Thursday, the Arizona Capitol Times first reported that James Keppel, the head of Horne’s criminal division, abruptly resigned. His departure two days earlier was being characterized by the attorney general’s office as a “retirement” to pursue new opportunities. Keppel refused to say why he left the job.
Today, Keppel would not comment on whether his resignation was related to the investigation, or whether he was familiar with the allegations against Horne. “I really can’t comment on the situation right now,” he said.
Given the reputation of the individuals involved in this investigation, my recommendation to reporters is to keep digging, you are bound to find a whole lot more. You should also go back and take another look at earlier reporting on Nathan Sproul that you gloss over once elections are over. Shine a light on his activities.