Attorney General Tom Horne

More from this show

Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne will discuss allegations made by one of his former employees that members of his executive staff were illegally conducting work for his re-election bid while on state time.

Ted Simons: Good evening. Welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. Attorney General Tom Horne yesterday sent letters to state officials denying allegations that he used state personnel and resources for campaign purposes. Here now to address those allegations is Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne. Good to see you again. Thanks for coming in. Let's get to the claim. Executive staff worked on your campaign, your reelection campaign, on state time, majority of the campaign work was done during regular hours. Your response.

Tom Horne: not true. I filed 11 statements by witnesses that contradict her. Two statements by former employers that were when she leaves employment she turns on them. Same circumstances as this case. Everybody had to work eight hours a day. They signed statements giving their hours every two weeks where they said I understand I could be prosecuted if I'm not telling the truth. One of the things that the witness statements showed was that there was a meeting offsite where she actually started crying and complaining that the chief of staff was watching her time to be sure she put in her eight hours. The chief of staff said we all have to put in our eight hours and volunteering for the campaign after work is voluntary. It doesn't seem likely to me that 13 people are not telling the truth.

Ted Simons: she says she was hired specifically to fund raise for your campaign. She immediately began campaign work upon being hired under the direction of Kathleen Wynn, your outreach person there. Involved with something else, but again, when she says she's hired specifically to do this, and that's what she did, is she lying?

Tom Horne: Yes. That isn't true. There's a statement from Kathleen saying the meeting was all about Kathleen needed an administrative assistant. It was a low level position, a 32,000 dollar administrative assistant position. She had worked as an administrative assistant before. Kathleen says in that meeting they talked about what she needed, the help she needed. The only one that brought up politics in that meeting was Sarah Beatty. Not Kathleen or someone else.

Ted Simons: When she brought up politics, how was it responded? was she told you're not supposed to do that? Was she advised what the law is?

Tom Horne: She is allowed. She has a first amendment right to volunteer for a campaign if she wants to do it on her own time. She can't do it on state time.

Ted Simons: But she said she worked two hours a day on official duties and all else was on campaigning.

Tom Horne: we know that's not true. First of all, her immediate supervisor says if you look at the work she did responding to constituent letters, working on the police officers memorial board, doing legislative work, that's not possible. Secondly she herself signed time sheets saying that she worked eight hours. She had to acknowledge every time she signed the time sheet that if she wasn't telling the truth she could be prosecuted for it. And one other thing, we know it's not true because when she didn't work eight hours her pay was docked. I showed records showing many, many times where substantial numbers of hours her pay was docked because she didn't work 40 hours on state work.

Ted Simons: yet she was hired and she says for campaign purposes and you say no, cuz she was hired, she went from $32,000 to $35,000 a year to a 10,000 bump to $45,000 a year. If she was having such trouble filling out time cards and being an apparent problem, why the increase in pay?

Tom Horne: Well, she started out working constituent services. That's entry level job with a very low salary. She moved to constituent services and did work responding to constituents, working on police officers memorial board, legislative work, more responsible job. Carried a higher salary. She personally told me she couldn't make it on what she was making. She had gotten to know me because she was volunteering for the campaign and I thought, I can understand you can't make it on under $32,000.

Ted Simons: yet though, it seems that someone's who's that kind of a problem, do you really want that person "A" in the office, and "B" getting a raise?

Tom Horne: Well sometimes somebody doesn't work out in one part of the office -- my philosophy is give them a try someplace else. Sometimes they succeed in one place, not in the other. This is my management style. I have always given people a chance that way.

Ted Simons: her claim is you met with staff during the day to discuss the campaign and we're not talking lunch hours, we're not talking lunch breaks, that this was a major part of the day. Your response.

Tom Horne: Not true. I have a witness statement from the executive director of the trade association that was three blocks away who said we came there many times during lunch and after work to have our meetings about the campaign. If we were running the campaign from the office as she alleged, there would have been no need for to us go there.

Ted Simons: Is that your election campaign headquarters there? And if so, it seems like it's not much of a headquarters to be quite honest with you. Other folks have, you know, all sorts of things going on with their headquarters. The claim from her is that your Attorney General's office is your headquarters.

Tom Horne: no. First of all, whatever needed to be done as far as meetings and decided what people would do and so on, was done at this trade association. As I say, I've got an independent statement from the executive director there that we were there many lunch times and after work doing those things. I noticed in the Tom Ryan interview he said these other headquarters are a beehive of activity. That's not true at this time. I walked by the Rotellini headquarters because it's near subway and I like their sandwiches. They have a lot of vegetables, they're healthy and I peer in, it's like a big, cavernous ghost town most of the times I've looked in there. At this point, as you get closer then you start to have phone banks and you need more busy headquarters. We do now have a separate headquarters on Thomas road, but up until this point the main things that you do in a campaign is raise funds, which doesn't need the candidate that makes those calls. You have to get petition signatures. There's no way to get petition signatures during working hours, you do it at nights or on weekends where people gather. And there's an email campaign and I paid an outside firm $2,500 a month for emails. There would be nothing have a beehive of activities for that far from the campaign. As you get closer then you start having phone banks when people are paying attention and we'll have a headquarters for that, but this idea of beehive activities was one of the sillier things Tom Ryan made up.

Ted Simons: You mentioned fundraising, the claim again was that you frequently made fund-raising calls from your office and that you even had a binder of campaign donors mislabeled border patrol in your office that you would use to call folks on state time.

Tom Horne: right. I used that binder at the headquarters of the trade association three blocks away. Again, there's an independent statement from the executive director that I went there many times to make calls from that binder. If I was doing that -- if I was willing to make those calls from the office why would I go there to make the calls? We know I made the calls and I have and independent witness saying I went three blocks away to make those calls.

Ted Simons: Yes, but did you make those calls from your office?

Tom Horne: I never made systematic calls from the binder from my office. I sometimes called people I knew personally from my office on my cell phone, not on the state phone. But if I was systematically calling from the binder it was always three blocks away at the trade union headquarters and I've got an independent witness, the executive director, who said he saw me go there. And occasionally she came with me late in the afternoon. She - I signed an email.

Ted Simons: Sarah Beatty?

Tom Horne: Sarah Beatty. I cite a text that she said she would work from 7 to 3. There's also a text from her confirming this crying fit she had where she says it's B.S. that Margaret watches my time so closely. In this other text message, she says I can work from 7-3 the implication once she's put in her eight hours from 7 to 3 then she has time to volunteer and she did occasionally come with me in late afternoon to those headquarters and sat with me as I made calls from that binder at this off site location, not in our office.

Ted Simons: Yet she has a couple dozen campaign emails exchanged by staffers that she says were exchanged during work hours. There's also meta data in the complaint regarding Brett Mecum, who I think is your legislative assistant, Working 20 hours over two days on a campaign flyer. That's a lot of hours over two days. That sounds like some office work had to be taken there.

Tom Horne: It's obviously impossible. You don't spend 20 hours editing. He can do that in a few minutes. A sixth grader could do it in a few minutes. If the meta data shows 20 hours it's because he left his computer on overnight. The mere fact that they allege that he worked 20 hours editing an invitation, just shows how lacking in credibility they are. That's an absolutely absurd thought, that he would spend 20 hours editing an invitation to a fundraising.

Ted Simons: they called it a campaign flyer, you call it an invitation.
Tom Horne: It was an invitation. It's so patently ridiculous, that the mere fact they are willing to say that somebody spent 20 hours editing an invitation shows that they totally lack credibility. The obvious thing that happened is he left his computer on overnight.

Ted Simons: If you're Attorney General. If someone came to you, if I came to you and someone accused me of something I said, well actually I just left my computer on for that amount of time, would you buy that?

Tom Horne: Oh, absolutely. There's no question. There is no chance, there's zero chance that Brett Mecum spent 20 hours editing an invitation. He wouldn't even spend 15 minutes. It would take a few minutes for him to edit an invitation. The charge is patently absurd and the fact that the charge was made shows how incredible they are.

Ted Simons: They also are suggesting that -- let's get to the grand, 30,000 foot view here. Do you think you were careless in running the office, having so many people involved in your campaign, so many "volunteers" involved in your campaign in the office and having to depend on work hours, lunch breaks, these sorts of things that you say they were on when they volunteered? Is that a smart idea?

Tom Horne: Well, I totally disagree. I think the fact that people are working with me, they see how I perform as Attorney General. They see me win my cases. They've seen me argue two cases via the Supreme Court and win them both. They see me argue to the Arizona Court of Appeals, Arizona superior court, federal district court, 9th circuit U.S. Supreme Court. They see the work I'm doing and how I'm winning my cases and protecting Arizona from federal over reach. And if they choose to volunteer I think that's a positive sign and it's their First Amendment right to volunteer but they have to do it on their own time. They have to put in eight hours a day. And this was absolutely emphasized to such an extent by the chief of staff that Sarah Beatty herself was crying about it that she wouldn't let her go early and not put in her eight hours.

Ted Simons: you mentioned that a number of times. We had Tom Ryan, her attorney on the program, he was saying that you were running a smear campaign against Sarah Beatty because you don't have the facts to back yourself up.

Tom Horne: No. I have given lots of facts.

Ted Simons: is it necessary to say she had a ---

Tom Horne: It's exactly the opposite of what she says now and there are five witness statements to it. It's a demonstration of the fact what was she crying about? Because the chief of staff said you have to work eight hours. You can't leave early to volunteer. We all have to work eight hours. This is in the witness statements. This isn't me. Volunteering is a voluntary activity. You don't have to volunteer after work if you don't want to but you must put in eight hours. She was very strict about that.

Ted Simons: Because of all that you think she's now come back, and you've also mentioned this whole story you think is part of the liberal media, I believe, where there's a campaign flyer or some sort of a message afterwards which I'm kind of curious about, but you think because of this she has -- all of these claims regarding all of these people doing all of these things, again, is that a reasonable thing to suspect?

Tom Horne: Well, this isn't the first time. This is her pattern. She's only 26 years old and we have statements from two prior employers that she turned on them when she left. The assistant director of the Mccain campaign said she made a claim for overtime that they figured was false and -- turn this off?

Ted Simons: Yes. I guess someone is trying to get you now.

Tom Horne: And that they thought it was false. They paid her to avoid political embarrassment. She says that's not true. Now why would the former assistant director of the Mccain campaign make something up? Same with leaving the employ of a lobbyist and accusing him of trying to push religion on her. If you believe her you have to believe 13 other people are lying. I find that hard to believe.
Ted Simons: Well then, what kind of background work was done on her before you hired her?

Tom Horne: Well, I'll plead guilty on that. We should have done more background work on her. We did have recommendations on her, but there was a lot about her that we didn't know that I wish we would have known.

Ted Simons: Bottom line, are you campaigning on the taxpayer's dime?

Tom Horne: Absolutely not and I have filed a very detailed statement, giving a lot of facts showing that it's not possible. 11 witness statements, two former employers. They can't all be lying and she telling the truth.

Ted Simons: And I know there are critics of yours who say all these folks including the Yavapai County attorney, this is a separate case, again, she's not buying an administrative law judge's determination there's a chance you did not coordinate --

Tom Horne: You skipped over that very fast.

Ted Simons: I don't have much time.

Tom Horne: I was Pulverized in the liberal media with accusations that I had done a campaign finance violation, Pulverized, repeated headlines in the Arizona Republic of the size you expect if Japan bombed Pearl Harbor again. It comes to an independent judge. The first person to view the evidence independently, she rules that it's a false charge. If you read the republic editorial page you would think I had lost that case, and not won it, but I won it. It was a false charge.
You won that recommendation yet the County attorney for Yavapai she has nothing to gain by this, does she? Why would she continue?

Tom Horne: She is the adversary. The contest was between her on one side and us on the other and she lost. She doesn't want to lose. So she wants to overrule the umpire. It's as though, let me give you an analogy, in baseball is called out at a base and says I overrule the umpire, I was safe. The INDEPENDENT judge, who is neutral, decides between two adversaries and says it's a false charge. Paying attention to the liberal media you would never believe it.

Ted Simons: last question on that particular thing, you're Attorney General, you're presented with a case where someone calls someone else, two minutes later an ad campaign is changed. Someone calls someone else, two minutes later the script is changed. Someone calls someone else, immediately emails an ad campaign director, it's changed. Someone sends an email change regarding the campaign, it's changed. Would you buy that all of that is coincidence?

Tom Horne: Well, you've picked out a little bit of evidence that the losing side put forward. The judge heard all the evidence. All the surrounding circumstances. A lot of testimony, a lot of documentation. The judge said it's a false charge. I think the public is going to listen to the judge, not the liberal media or the loser Sheila Polk but the neutral judge who heard all the evidence and made a decision based on that evidence that is a false charge. Somebody ought to teach the republic editorial board that when a judge makes a decision that is the decision and they shouldn't treat it as though I lost a case that I won.

Ted Simons: Well the County attorney would probably need that message too, correct?

Tom Horne: absolutely.

Ted Simons: Last question; are we part of the liberal media?

Tom Horne: You're terrific. You're very fair. I always love coming on your program.

Ted Simons: Well good to have you here. We'll get you back to answer more questions.

Tom Horne: Thank you.

Tom Horne:Attorney General, Arizona;


President Biden for the 2024 State of the Union address.
airs March 7

State of the Union

Stewart Udall: The Politics of Beauty

A cute little duckling with text reading: Arizona PBS Ducks in a Row Event
March 6

Getting Your Ducks in a Row to Avoid Conflict When You Are Gone

A cactus blooms in the Sonoran Desert
aired Feb. 28

Desert Dreams: Celebrating Five Seasons in the Sonoran Desert

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters

STAY in touch

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters: