A judge denied Republican attorney general candidate Tom Horne’s request for an injunction against television ads being run by a Democratic-funded group, Horne said.
Horne asked Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Linda Miles to halt the ads being run by the Committee for Justice and Fairness, which is funded by the Democratic Attorneys General Association, on the grounds that the ads violate campaign finance laws. The committee is not registered with the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office and the commercials do not list its top donors, as required by state law.
But Miles said there is no provision in state law for issuing an injunction against the commercials, Horne said. The only remedy available is to fine the Committee for Justice and Fairness three times the amount of the $600,000 expenditure.
Horne said he is asking for $1.8 million fines against both the committee and the Democratic Attorneys General Association, though it’s a poor substitute for the injunction he sought.
“The judge ruled that the only remedy is a fine,” Horne said. “That obviously doesn’t do me any good.”
Horne also filed a complaint against the committee with the Secretary of State’s Office, which referred the matter to the Arizona Attorney General’s Office.
“Because on its face the committee has failed to register and has inadequate disclosure on their advertisement, I am referring the matter to you for enforcement,” state elections director Amy Bjellenad wrote in the letter.
A representative of the Committee for Justice and Fairness could not be reached for comment.
The Committee for Justice and Fairness began running the ads on Oct. 20, one day before Horne filed his complaint.
Under state law, any committee that runs advertisements that advocates for the defeat of a candidate must file as an independent expenditure. The Committee for Justice and Fairness filed with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service as a 527 committee, but is not listed as an independent expenditure with the Secretary of State’s Office.
The ad accuses Horne, who has served as superintendent of public instruction since 2003, of voting against tougher penalties for statutory rape as a member of the Legislature in 2000, and of using his vote on the Arizona State Board of Education in 2006 to recertify a teacher who had been caught looking at child pornography on a school computer.
The statutory rape bill was failed in the House Committee of the Whole by a 12-41 vote over concerns by lawmakers that it would stiffen penalties for teenagers who engaged in consensual sex, an issue that Horne said led him to vote against it. Former Sen. Karen Johnson, who sponsored the bill, said she is glad the bill failed.
The teacher Horne voted to recertify in 2006 acknowledged looking at pornography, but investigators from the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office investigation said no child pornography was found on the computer’s hard drive.
The former Queen Creek High School teacher had undergone years of counseling since resigning in 2002, and Horne said he believed the teacher had been rehabilitated. The Board of Education voted 6-5 to recertify the teacher on the recommendation of its Professional Practices Advisory Committee.