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Tom Horne: Prosecutor in campaign case is sore loser

PHOENIX -- Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne on Thursday said a prosecutor who reinstated a campaign finance case against him is a sore loser.

Horne said in an interview that Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk's decision to overrule an administrative law judge's decision shows she just couldn't take losing the case.

``I'm profoundly shocked that she refused to respect the decision of an objective judge who heard the evidence,'' Horne said. ``Sheila Polk was the lawyer on the other side -- she lost -- and now she wants to overrule the judge. I'll get it reversed in court. It's outrageous.''

Horne also said he doesn't believe he'll be politically damaged by the case as he heads into a tough re-election fight. The Republican is facing a primary challenge from former Arizona Department of Gaming director Mark Brnovich and, if he advances, a Democratic challenger in November, Felecia Rotellini.

``I think that the public (will) look to the objective judge, not to a political decision by a lawyer who lost her case,'' Horne said.

Polk's assistant said she would not comment, as has been her practice since she brought the complaint against Horne in October.

Both Brnovich and Rotellini issued statements attacking Horne after Polk's decision. Brnovich said Horne ``has consistently demonstrated that he continues to fail to live up to the expectations for a public official -- especially our Attorney General.'' Rotellini, meanwhile, said ``Arizona voters deserve an Attorney General who will stand above these scandals and distractions.''

Polk alleged that Horne and aide Kathleen Winn illegally worked together on outside ads targeting Horne's Democratic opponent before the November 2010 election. She ordered him to repay $400,000 to donors to the outside group and amend his campaign finance reports. He and Winn also could face up to $1.2 million in fines, three times the amount Polk said was improperly spent.

The case went before a judge for a three-day hearing in February, and Judge Tammy Eigenheer ruled last month that prosecutors hadn't proven the case.

Under civil campaign law, however, Polk had the final say, and she reinstated her complaint Wednesday. Horne and Winn must now bring a case in Superior Court to try to overturn the order.

Horne also faces a new election-law complaint from a staffer who alleges that he used his executive staff to run his campaign on state time. The complaint was filed Monday with the Secretary of State and the Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission and handed over to the FBI and Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery.

Horne called the new accusations ``completely untrue,'' and he plans to rebut the charges.

Montgomery first filed the campaign-finance complaint in 2012, but it was dismissed on procedural grounds. The case compiled by the FBI was then sent to Polk. Both are Republicans.

On Thursday, Montgomery said it would be for the ``betterment of Arizona'' if Horne did not seek re-election.

``His performance today, if you will, suggests that this is someone who has a very bizarre understanding of reality and can't be counted on to fairly carry out the duties and responsibilities of that office,'' Montgomery said. ``Enough is enough.''

Horne blasted back, saying Montgomery is clearly his political enemy and is using his office to try to unseat him.

``All he knows how to do is name-call,'' Horne said. ``The fact is he held a dramatic news conference ... he told the world that I had deliberately violated campaign finance law, it turned out not to be true and it has become clear that he was acting out of political motives. How bad can you get.''

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