Attorney General Tom Horne discusses his investigation of the IRC for possible Open Meetings law violations.
Ted Simons: Good evening and welcome to "Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. Arizona attorney general Tom Horne's investigation of the state's redistricting commission now includes a special action filed today in superior court. Here to tell us about the move is attorney general Tom Horne. Good to see you again. Thanks for joining us.
Tom Horne: Good to see you.
Ted Simons: Why did you file the action?
Tom Horne: Three of the commission members are stonewalling, two have testified, and three are refusing to testify and one of the grounds, they don't have probable cause to proceed and I filed an action in Superior court to compel them and setting forth the probable cause to show that evidence existed there could be a violation of law. In that the two that did testify said that the chairman had been calling them to try to get a unanimous vote in favor the consultant they hired and under the open meeting law, you can talk to one other person but not two because that becomes a majority. You don't do that behind the scenes. You do that in public.
Ted Simons: Is that why you initiated the investigation?
Tom Horne: Yes, and now we have testimony on the record from two of the commissioners that went on and we have quite a bit of other evidence that I put into the pleadings that I filed with the court indicating probable cause to believe there may be a violation of law here which could lead to different sanctions but including the possibility of the removal of a commissioner.
Ted Simons: As far as picking the mapping company, my impression was that your attorneys were involved in giving information on guidelines and rules.
Tom Horne: That's a mistake. Our attorneys were not involved -- we were replaced as counsel long before they picked the firm. We were counsel to them in the very beginning and a lawyer from our office gave them training on the open meeting.
Ted Simons: But there was a connection before the selection was made?
Tom Horne: That's correct.
Ted Simons: The other side is saying there could be a conflict of interest since your attorneys advised long before, but still before the selection was made.
Tom Horne: We have a letter from Joe foster, was the ethics attorney under Terry Goddard and serves on the ethics committee for the state bar, saying there's no conflict because the acts took place after we were no longer counsel. What is significant, when we were counsel we gave training on the open meeting law and specifically told them you can talk to one our person but not the majority of the commission and line up the votes and go into an open meeting where you have a sham, where you're rubber stamping, which you've already agreed to. The deliberations are supposed to take place in public.
Ted Simons: Are you saying the two Republicans on the commission support the claims?
Tom Horne: We have testimony from two of the members. I don't like to talk about parties because as attorney general, I try to be nonpartisan, but we have testimony from two commissioners that the chairman of the commission called them saying she wanted a unanimous vote for the consultant implying she had three votes and needed their two votes and so she may have talked to all of the members but she shouldn't have talked to as many as two. She could have talked to one, but not as many as two.
Ted Simons: Former attorney general Terry Goddard has written an Op-ed piece along with former mayor Paul Johnson and he criticizes you for announcing an investigation without first having a lawsuit, without first going to a grand jury and getting some kind of indictment. Instead of doing a confidential investigation and then getting the lawsuit or indictment, he says it's the cart before the horse and a fishing expedition, doing this first as opposed to that. How do you respond?
Tom Horne: It's clearly not a fishing expedition and when I filed the action in court, I gave the probable cause including the testimony we just talked about so it's clearly not a fishing expedition. I had to disclose this information to show I had probable cause to do the investigation. In the article, Mr. Goddard puts the word investigation in quotes. Further diverts the commission from doing its assigned task and does nothing to find or prevent lawbreaking. It's the opposite of the truth. It's my job to find out if there's lawbreaking and it does do something to prevent lawbreaking and we're trying to get at the facts and here's a former attorney general participating in a coverup where he tries to justify people not testifying when I have the facts to show there's probable cause there's a crime committed.
Ted Simons: What he's saying is an investigation would make sense but do it confidentially so if nothing is found, the political process isn't in some way stained.
Tom Horne: Ted, he's not saying an investigation makes sense. He puts the word "investigation" in quotes and says I'm diverting the commission from its task and does nothing to prevent law breaking.
Ted Simons: I think he's saying the confidentiality part.
Ted Simons: Well, I had to go to court to compel people to testify and show the court I have had probable cause and I have the testimony of two commissioners that show that, in fact, the chairman was lining up the votes, in secret. Not in the view of the public. We also have the fact that the three people who voted for the consultant, they gave a perfect 700 points to the consultant chosen. We have testimony from another commissioner that could not be honest, so for them to do that, it would be very unusual if that was done independently and coincidentally and there's indication it would be an agreement which would be a violation of the open meetings law.
Ted Simons: For those who are saying -- You called this a coverup by the Democrats.
Tom Horne: I don't refer to political party, Ted. I think its important--
Ted Simons: It did say a coverup.
Tom Horne: Yes.
Ted Simons: The Republicans aren't covering this up
Tom Horne: There's a coverup going on and if they think they're going to escape our effort to find the truth, they need to think a second time and if Terry Goddard thinks he can intimidate me, somebody needs to tell him to think twice. I haven't reached a conclusion whether or not there's anything illegal but I'm not going to let people stonewall me. The people expect me to get to the facts and I'm going do this.
Ted Simons: And the people expect it to be a independent redistricting commission.
Tom Horne: Yes.
Ted Simons: And some folks, we know what side of the fence they're on, they say you're trying to intimidate the commission. And republicans are trying to muck up the process before the map line is even drawn.
Tom Horne: I've not expressed an opinion, who they hired or anything they've done. The only thing I've found when I got information that the law was broken, people expect me to get at the facts and it's important to me as attorney general to be nonpartisan. Once the election is over, I represent the people and they expect me to prosecute the people, whether they're Republicans or Democrats or independent, if they violent the law. This is an attack on me to keep me from getting to the facts. We're not going to permit a coverup, we're going to get the facts.