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Clean Elections Commission Further Pursuing Horne Campaign Finance Investigation

Capitol Media Services file photo by Howard Fischer

The executive director of the Clean Elections Commission concluded today there’s reason to believe that Tom Horne used more than $300,000 worth of state employee time and office rent in his bid to get reelected as attorney general. Arizona Public Radio’s Howard Fischer has details.

Tom Collins said evidence he has reviewed shows that the “volunteers” for Horne’s campaign were not really volunteers at all, but instead employees at the Attorney General’s Office. And, he said that with the exception of a paid out-of-state media consultant, all of those in attendance at a key campaign meeting were employees of the office. Horne has characterized any in-office conversations about the campaign as “water cooler talk” and said that any work performed by staffers was during lunch breaks and other non-state time. But, Collins said there are no records supporting that explanation.

“The upshot of the complaint and the facts that we’ve been able to ascertain with the tools available at this point in the process show that there was a merger, if you will, of state and non-state activities such that there really was no volunteer,” Collins said.

Collins said that means Horne effectively accepted more than $300,000 in donations from an illegal source — meaning the state taxpayers — under campaign finance laws for what ended up his losing bid for the Republican nomination. The commission will meet Thursday to review Collins’ findings and decide what to do next.

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