By Yvonne Wingett Sanchez and Craig Harris
The Arizona Republic
The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office is initiating a civil enforcement action against Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne and Kathleen Winn, one of his political allies, alleging they violated state campaign finance laws.
County Attorney Bill Montgomery alleged at a 10 a.m. news conference that Horne actively directed fundraising by an independent expenditure committee and communicated strategy with Winn, who worked for the committee, during the final weeks of 2010 campaign for attorney general.
It is illegal for candidates to communicate with independent expenditure committees.
Officials said that civil penalties are being pursued because there was not a sufficient basis for filing criminal charges and state statutes specifically allow for civil handling of such matters.
Montgomery said the law allows civil penalties of up to three times the cost of illegal literature or advertisements disseminated during the time of illegal activity. The independent expenditure committee raised more than $500,000 in the final weeks of the 2010 campaign from the Republican State Leadership Committee and individual donors. The money paid for television advertisements advocating against Felecia Rotellini, Horne’s Democratic opponent in that race.
The County Attorney intends to issue an order requiring compliance by the independent committee and the Tom Horne for Attorney General campaign committee, followed by an order assessing a civil penalty.