Allegations against AG Horne have credibility, report says - CBS 5 - KPHO

Allegations against AG Horne have credibility, report says

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Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne is accused of violating campaign finance laws Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne is accused of violating campaign finance laws
PHOENIX (CBS5) -

A cloud of controversy continues to hover over Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne.

The Secretary of State's Office just released a "Reasonable Cause Notice." The notice states there is strong evidence that Horne likely violated campaign finance laws by using his office as a campaign headquarters.

One of Horne's former administrative assistants, Sarah Beattie, came forward recently, claiming that AG staff members were pressured to work on Horne's re-election campaign during regular business hours.

Beattie's attorney Tom Ryan told CBS 5 News that Horne's behavior is a clear violation of the public's trust and an abuse of taxpayer money.

"Not only was he using the executive office of the AG suite as his campaign headquarters, but he's using paid executive staff members as his personal campaign staff members," Ryan said.

Horne told CBS 5 News in May that he did nothing wrong.

"We all make mistakes, but I haven't violated any campaign finance laws," Horne said.

CBS 5 News reached out to Horne again Wednesday to respond to the secretary of state's findings.

He declined to speak on camera, but his office issued the following statement.

"These allegations are brought by a woman who has a history of making claims when she leaves employers.  I have filed 11 witness statements indicating there is nothing to these allegations.  I therefore look forward to this investigation being a complete vindication.  The internal investigation will be terminated as there is no reason to have two investigations at the same time.  I have instructed my staff to cooperate fully with any investigation taking place."

The case has now been turned over to Arizona's solicitor general, who will appoint an outside agency for further investigation.

The findings will be sent back to the secretary of state.

"He should not just resign from the race," Ryan said. "He needs to be removed from office immediately."

Even if Horne is found guilty of violating state law, the secretary of state can only issue a fine.

However,  the state's Clean Elections Commission is conducting its own separate investigation and they can remove Horne from office, if necessary, said Ryan.

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