It took seven long years — during which Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne was relentlessly hammered in the press and ultimately lost his reelection bid — to finally have his name cleared.
The convoluted case has garnered press far outside of Arizona. The Telegraph, a Macon, Georgia based newspaper, carries one of the better reports, written by AP reporter Bob Christie.
The decision by Cochise County Attorney Brian McIntyre concluded there was not sufficient evidence to uphold a decision made in 2013 by Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk. At the time, Polk concluded Horne and a former associate broke campaign laws during the 2010 election cycle.
McIntyre’s decision likely puts to rest a long-running case -– in Horne’s attorney’s words, an “oppressive cloud” ––. that effectively ended the Republican Attorney General’s re-election bid. This decision follows one issued by the Arizona Supreme Court in May, which found Horne was denied due process in the manner in which the allegations were handled, denying him a fair trial. Justice Clint Bolick, writing for the court, said Horne’s due process rights were violated because Polk assisted in the civil prosecution and made the final decision against Horne.
This vindication of the conservative Horne, who had previously served as Arizona’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, ends the possibility that he would be required to repay $400,000 to donors and up to $1.2 million in fines.
The best summation of this ongoing legal nightmare is this quote from Horn’s attorney Dennis Wilenchik, as he refers to Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk:
Noting that he was pleased that Horne has “finally been cleared, and that this oppressive cloud that has been hanging over him since before the last election has gone away. This case was brought by an overzealous prosecutor who chose to act as ‘judge, jury and executioner’ and to overrule a judge.”
The local newspaper, which led the charge against Horne, provides the link to the Final Decision and Order.
Administrative Law Judge Tammy L. Eigenheer issued the order April 14, 2014. At that time she concluded Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk had failed to establish by a preponderance of evidence that the October 27, 2010 email from then-Attorney General Tom Horne to his then-aide Kathleen Winn “constituted improper coordination in violation of Title 16 Chapter 6 of the Arizona Revised Statutes. No evidence was presented to show that the email has a material effect on BLA’s (Business Leaders for Arizona) expenditures.”
Horne, who has an outstanding legal background successfully arguing cases on behalf of the state of Arizona before the U. S. Supreme Court, is currently an attorney in private practice.