Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery accused Tom Horne today of breaking campaign finance laws in his successful run for attorney general two years ago.
The civil charges stem from a half-million dollar TV ad run by a committee called Business Leaders for Arizona advocating Horne's election over Democrat Felecia Rotellini. But Montgomery said Horne improperly -- and illegally -- coordinated with Kathleen Winn who running what was supposed to be a legally independent committee.
"There were contemporaneous e-mail and telephone conversations on how much money was expected from each particular source of funds and what polling had shown needed to be the message, concerns over the content of the commercial in production and active communications about why some of the messaging needed to be changed," Montgomery said.
But Horne said the FBI and the county attorney's office misread those e-mails from Winn, who now works for him.
"There was a notation on an e-mail where she sent an e-mail to her consultant about what she wanted in the ad," Horne said. "And there was a notation on there saying while she was writing that, she was on the phone with me. We checked the records and she was on the phone with me about something else earlier. She hung up on her phone call with me, then opened her e-mail from the consultant and then responded to it. So there was a misinterpretation of that e-mail."
Horne said he will fight the effort by Montgomery to get a civil penalty equal to three times the amount the county attorney claims was improperly spent.