PHOENIX - An administrative law judge is expected to issue a ruling Monday on whether there's enough evidence to conclude Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne illegally coordinated campaign spending with an aide running an independent group during his 2010 campaign.
Yavapai County prosecutors say they showed during a civil hearing in February that Horne and aide Kathleen Winn broke campaign-finance law by working together on outside ads targeting Horne's Democratic opponent in the weeks before the November 2010 election won by the Republican attorney general. They want Horne to repay $400,000 to donors and up to three times that amount in civil fines.
Lawyers for Horne and Winn said there is no evidence the pair broke campaign finance laws. They also argued that an FBI agent who investigated the case committed perjury.
Horne himself testified that he "absolutely never" had illegal communications with Winn, an aide who was the leader of the independent campaign backing him in 2010.
"We absolutely never coordinated or violated any of the laws," he said. "I absolutely never did coordinate with Kathleen Winn."
Judge Tammy Eigenheer of the Arizona Office of Administrative Hearings oversaw three days of testimony in February. Attorneys had expected her ruling Thursday, but she has now set a deadline for Monday.
The decision will likely not be the end of the case, however, because Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk can accept or reject her findings and impose sanctions herself.
Polk determined in October that Horne violated the law and ordered the repayments and the filing of amended campaign-finance reports. Horne and Winn appealed the finding
Horne and Winn could appeal any decision, dragging any final conclusion into the election season, where Horne faces a challenger in August's Republican primary as he seeks a second term. If he wins the primary, he'll likely face the same Democrat he narrowly defeated in 2010, Felecia Rotellini, a former prosecutor and bank regulator.
Horne and Winn are accused of working together on a campaign ad targeting Rotellini that was paid for by an independent group Winn was running, Business Leaders for Arizona. Such coordination would be illegal in Arizona.