Montgomery’s motives, Bennett’s inaction questioned in Horne probe

montgomeryA decision by Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery last week to use his office and power to attack his political enemy, Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne has even Horne’s harshest critics crying foul.

In a column dated July 10, Horne critic Laurie Roberts of the Arizona Republic questioned Montgomery’s move.

Roberts writes, “I come today not to throw rocks at everybody’s favorite attorney general – OK, well maybe a few small ones – but to … gulp … agree with him.”

She notes that Horne is being investigated by the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office due to former Horne employee “Sarah Beattie’s claims that Horne used state employees and state resources to work on his re-election campaign.”

“Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery can’t stand Tom Horne,” wrote Roberts. “He recently called on Horne to resign and he’s long supported Mark Brnovich’s campaign to unseat our illustrious attorney general.”

And it is that fact, that has many questioning the selective an politically motivated actions by a Maricopa County like Montgomery, but the politically motivated inaction of a state official; Secretary of State Ken Bennett.

Bennett, a friend of the Republican establishment, moved quickly to begin an investigation into Beattie’s allegation filed just last month, but appears to have done nothing in response to a complaint filed by Horne against his Republican Primary challenger Brnovich.

That complaint against Brnovich reads like a who’s who of establishment Republican Party operatives.

Horne alleges that an organization; the Arizona Public Integrity Alliance, (“AZPIA”), operated by Brnovich campaign operatives; Sean Noble and Kirk Adams, started a dark money campaign against Horne.

Horne’s complaint alleges that AZPIA is in fact a political committee that has engaged in an unregistered Independent Campaign against the AG after Brnovich announced that he was running against Horne in the Primary Election.

After throwing his hat in the ring at the urging of the Republican establishment, Brnovich hired Primary Campaign Consultants, D.C. London, a firm operated by Noble and Adams.

Adams also runs an organization called Americans for Responsible Leadership. Americans for Responsible Leadership was fined $1 million by the state of California for dark money violations in an election there.

In his complaint filed with the Secretary of State, Horne notes that $9 million in fines “were assessed against organizations involved in money laundering and dark money operations. One of them was the Center for Patient Rights, an organization controlled by Adams’ colleague, Sean Noble.”

Ryan Anderson is Brnovich’s campaign manager and an associate of D.C. London, an organization controlled by Noble, according to the complaint.

“In exchanges of money that occurred between Noble’s organization and California organizations, Noble ended up with $9 million,” reads the complaint. “It defies the laws of probability to think that it is a coincidence that Mr. Brnovich hired Adams, a prince of dark money, and that the succeeding dark money campaign against Horne, where donors were not disclosed, was a coincidence.”

Adams is known for his less-than-accurate attacks. In a campaign against Arizona Representative Matt Salmon, AZPIA “falsely claimed that Salmon had lobbied in favor of Obamacare. Another political campaign run by AZPIA was in favor of Jerry Lewis, who had previously defeated Russell Pearce, where Lewis was the open borders advocate. Records show that Adams’ organization has in the past given money to AZPIA,” according to the complaint.

Previously Bennett ruled against Horne in his complaint against AZPIA when they spent $100,000 on attack ads and mailers against Horne. AZPIA claimed that they were not targeting Horne they were attempting to block that passage of legislation.

However, Horne’s attorneys point out that AZPIA took none of the traditional measures to defeat or influence legislation, including mobilizing coalitions; hiring lobbyists “who would speak to everyone in the legislature; draft legislation; and do a number of other things oriented toward legislation” reads the complaint.

Still, Bennett ruled that they did not violate the law, but noted, “In the future, we may reach a different conclusion if similar literature or advertisements are distributed closer to the election.”

That day came, and Horne filed due to a new dark money campaign by Adams, who allegedly spent $400,000 in two weeks in what was described in the complaint as a “massive campaign,” which was “unprecedented for a dark money effort to defeat a candidate.”

Horne’s attorney advised Bennett in the complaint that at a bare minimum “an inquiry should be made of AZPIA as to what their mailing list was. If it was a list of high efficacy Republicans, that would be conclusive proof that the targeting was for the purpose of influencing the election. There would be no other reason to target high efficacy Republicans.”

Open campaigning for opponent of Horne
Recent campaigning for opponent of Horne

Bennett’s office is investigating the claims by Beattie will zeal, while he continues to employ quasi-franking privileges to send out feel good press releases touting his work as Secretary of State while running for governor.

Now, Brnovich’s wife has stirred controversy because as a judge she is not allowed to work on a partisan campaign but appears in his campaign ads.

In the meantime, as Roberts wrote: “…it’s not just raining conflicts in this state. We’ve got an entire monsoon of mischief. Montgomery should pass along the case to another agency.”

2 Comments

  1. Here’s my answer from Jim Drake of the Arizona Secretary of State office:

    I understand your concerns. However, please know that the Secretary of State’s Office is doing everything within our authority to provide rapid and fair resolution to all campaign finance complaints. No complaint is ever given different treatment. Some complaints or responses are more complex than others, so meaningful review sometimes takes longer. In the case of AZPIA there have been, essentially, three complaints that the advertisements against Mr. Horne are not “issue” advocacy. Most recently, the response from the attorney for AZPIA was lengthy and multi-faceted. After a thorough review of this response, it seems clear that AZPIA is following (rather precisely) United States Supreme Court precedent in keeping with the Wisconsin Right to Life case. Federal Election Commission v. Wisconsin Right to Life, Inc., 551 U.S. 449 (2007).

    With regard to your concerns about dark money, the Secretary of State’s office has consistently pushed for legislative changes that create greater transparency and has been rebuffed at each legislative session. The Secretary of State has also referred, for enforcement, convenience corporations that have no discernable purpose other than to influence elections.
    —————————————————————————————-
    Seems like the article is correct, all right. The AZ SOS reply is hardly re-assuring. Seems like they are willing to let AZPIA slide as long as they are “precise” and blame any dark money problems on “the legislature.”

  2. Americans for Responsible Leadership was fined $1 million by the state of California for dark money violations in an election there.

    Wow, how can these RINOs be so sleazy? Why don’t they get out of GOP and join the Democrats, Green Party or CPUSA where they belong? I’m writing the AZ SOS.

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