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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Inane legal technicalities no excuse for throwing out case against Tom Horne

    The law is complicated and full of strange rules and technicalities.

    Arizona experienced how these technicalities can get in the way of a legitimate investigation in October 2012 when Secretary of State Ken Bennett turned evidence over to Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery to prosecute Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne for campaign finance violations in the 2010 election.

    When he received the case, Montgomery filed a civil compliance order against Horne that would have required him and staff member Kathleen Winn to redo their campaign finance documents and repay more than $400,000 in campaign contributions or face fines that total more than $1 million.

    Horne appealed the order to the Arizona Office of Administrative Hearings and the case had been bogged down until an administrative law judge recommended the case be thrown out based on technical grounds last month.

    Judge Tammy L. Eigenheer said the case should be dismissed because Bennett failed to give the case to the state’s prosecutor — who, of course, is the attorney general. According to Eigenheer, Bennett should have given the evidence against Horne to Horne so he could investigate himself.

    Yes, it’s as ridiculous as it sounds.

    There is strong evidence in the case against Horne and Winn and it deserves to go to trial. The report to the Secretary of State’s office was conducted jointly by the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office and the FBI, so any evidence they’ve found should at least be considered in a court of law.

    The report, the result of a 14 month investigation led by the FBI, accuses Horne and Winn of knowingly breaking campaign finance laws by illegally collaborating with Business Leaders for Arizona to raise more than $500,000 to run negative advertisements against Felecia Rotellini, Horne’s Democratic opponent in 2010. The FBI uncovered phone records and emails linking Horne’s involvement with BLA in the final days of the tight race.

    The allegations have been denied by the Attorney General’s office. This is exactly the kind of case our justice system was designed to handle. But, instead of presenting this evidence in court, the case has been on hold for nearly 6 months as the two sides have been bickering over the process instead of providing logical, factual arguments concerning the actual case.

    Arizona deserves an explanation for those phone calls and emails and a courtroom is the place to do it.

    It’s absurd that this case could be thrown out because one judge thinks it would be a good idea to file a case against the attorney general to the attorney general. In an order issued on Friday, Eigenheer said she will hear arguments May 7.

    For someone whose job it is to uncover the truth, Horne seems more interested in dodging the issue with ridiculous technicalities than actually facing the justice system he usually works so closely with.

    — Nathaniel Drake is a sophomore studying political science and communications. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu or Twitter via @WildcatOpinions.

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