Timing in AG's hit-and-run case questioned

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX -- For Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne, it began as an undercover FBI investigation, then came the hit-and-run accident and extramarital affair accusation.

But did the prominent Arizona politician embroiled in the middle of the scandal, use the Jodi Arias verdict to cover up his case?

When attempts to interview Horne about that failed, 3TV went to Horne's house hoping to clarify why Horne chose to pay his misdemeanor fine for a hit-and-run accident on perhaps the most chaotic news day of the year in Phoenix, the day the jury reached a verdict in the Jodi Arias case.

When asked whether he used the Arias verdict as cover to avoid talking about the case Horne responded by saying, "No, no, I issued a statement. I would have issued a statement whenever I had done it and I think the statement was clear and we had always been planning to do that that week."

While it's not uncommon for defendants to request a change in their court date, the city prosecutor confirmed with 3TV Tom Horne's attorney called him several times on May 8 to get on the judge's calendar that day. Horne's case was originally scheduled for May 28.

Chip Scutari is in public relations and is a former political journalist. "He gets the Heisman for the slick PR move of the month. If you have bad news or negative news you want to get out, do it at a time when reporters aren't paying attention or they are busy doing other things."

Scutari suspects this was more than a coincidence. "It was calculated. Some may say it's devious, some may say it was brilliant but they were almost timing this down to the minute when to pay
this fine."

So why would the Attorney General want to pay the $300 fine nearly 3 weeks ahead of schedule?

Scutari says, "The 300 dollar fine, the amount of the fine is really insignificant. It's about getting this one bad thing off his plate. "
According to audio recordings obtained by 3TV, FBI agents who witnessed the hit-and-run accident on March 27, 2012, suspected something else was going on.

The FBI agents were conducting surveillance on the Attorney General from this parking garage when the hit-and-run happened.

The Phoenix Police Report shows Horne was driving a black Volkswagen Passat with one of his colleagues, Carmen Chenal, at the time of the accident.

The report goes on to say FBI Special Agents, "learned that Horne is having an extramarital affair with Chenal" and "it stands to reason that Horne did not want any record of his presence in the parking garage of Chenal's apartment complex thus he did not leave a note."

When questioned about the affair Horne said, "Dennis, I think that's enough. Thanks for coming."

Horne then shut the door.

Horne did plead no contest to the hit-and-run misdemeanor charge.

As for the FBI investigation into Horne's alleged campaign finance violations, Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett is currently reviewing the case.

The campaign finance probe was reportedly the reason FBI agents were conducting surveillance on Horne in March 2012.

Timing of AG Horne's plea politically astute