Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery said the decision to refer Attorney General Tom Horne’s pending traffic case to Phoenix prosecutors was not politically motivated.
In a statement meant to refute Horne’s recent motion to dismiss charges stemming from an alleged hit-and-run incident in a downtown Phoenix parking garage, Montgomery said he, not the FBI, made the decision to refer the case to Phoenix prosecutors.
The traffic charge stemmed from a joint MCAO-FBI investigation into alleged campaign finance violations by Horne and political ally Kathleen Winn. An FBI agent who was following Horne in March reported that he saw Horne back into a parked vehicle and leave the scene without reporting it.
Montgomery said the county attorney’s office only prosecutes misdemeanor cases, such as the alleged fender bender, when there is a felony involved. Because the joint investigation did not lead to felony charges, Montgomery said he decided to refer the case to Phoenix prosecutors once the FBI-MCAO investigation concluded in October.
The county attorney also said he asked the Phoenix FBI office to contact city police and prosecutors and alert them that a high-profile case was coming their way because so much time had elapsed since the alleged incident. Montgomery said such notifications are not out of the ordinary.
“There was no political motivation to either refer the case to the City of Phoenix or to give the Phoenix Police Department courtesy notification that the case would be coming to them. Likewise, the courtesy notification to the City of Phoenix prosecutor’s office was not politically motivated,” Montgomery said in a written statement Friday.
Horne is asking a municipal court judge to dismiss the case, alleging that the FBI targeted him in a politically motivated case. Michael Kimerer, Horne’s attorney said the FBI personally contacted the Phoenix police chief nearly seven months after the alleged incident and urged him to prosecute the case. Kimerer said such an accident would not normally warrant prosecution or police involvement, but that they targeted Horne because he is an elected official.
“The only conceivable motive for FBI agents surveilling Horne in 2012 when they were investigating a 2010 campaign finance allegation, and for the FBI special agent in charge to induce the police chief to violate his guidelines was to damage Horne’s political career. This political motive is an abuse of power by the FBI agents,” Kimerer wrote in a motion to dismiss on Feb. 13.
In a separate motion, Kimerer asked the judge to dismiss the case on the grounds that FBI agents “stonewalled” defense attorneys. He said the two FBI agents who followed Horne and a colleague from the Attorney General’s Office to a parking garage at 3rd Avenue and Roosevelt Street refused to answer questions about why they were following Horne, how they knew where he was going before he got there, or why they waited so long to contact the police or the owner the vehicle that Horne allegedly hit.