Attorney General Horne faces new attack ads

Posted: Updated:
By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

PHOENIX (AP) -- An independent group on Friday launched ads attacking Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne, and a key aide named in an election-law complaint resigned as pressure on the Republican official intensified.

The ads by the conservative group Arizona Public Integrity Alliance come after a tough week for Horne, who faces a primary challenger and, if he survives, a tough general election race against a Democrat who nearly beat him in 2010.

On Monday, Horne was hit with an election-law complaint alleging his executive staff did extensive work on his campaign. On Wednesday, a prosecutor reinstated a campaign-finance complaint against him alleging that he and an aide illegally coordinated spending by an outside group during his 2010 election bid.

The ads don't mention either Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk's complaint or the new election-law complaint filed by former Horne staffer Sarah Beattie.

Instead, they refer to an FBI report saying Horne was having an extramarital affair and his 2012 parking lot hit-and-run accident and urge him to resign.

An attorney for the group backing the ads, Kory Langhofer, said it plans a media buy large enough so that people across the state will see the message.

Meanwhile, one of the Horne staffers named in Beattie's complaint resigned this week.

Horne spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said the resignation of state and federal relations staffer Garrett Archer was unrelated to the complaint. Archer's wife is pregnant, and he plans to return to his private political consulting firm, she said.

"It's actually just incredibly bad timing," Grisham said. "This has absolutely zero to do with the allegations."

Beattie said Archer is a "self-described political guru" who was part of a "dream-team" of election workers Horne hired as staffers. She said in her complaint that a review of his computer will show "a substantial amount of his time was devoted to Tom Horne's campaign, done on official State time."

Horne denies allowing his staff do campaign work on state time, calling the allegations "completely untrue."

He also denies the 2010 campaign-finance allegations.

Those allegations were renewed by Polk when she rejected an administrative law judge's decision that they should be withdrawn for lack of evidence. Horne now plans an appeal to Superior Court.

Prosecutors allege Horne and aide Kathleen Winn illegally coordinated campaign spending while Winn ran an independent group during his 2010 election bid. Polk ordered Horne to repay $400,000 and amend his campaign finance reports.

Grisham confirmed that some staffers named in Beattie's complaint are consulting attorneys, but said they were not doing so because of fear of criminal prosecution.

Instead, they were considering suing Beattie, she said.

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.