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Defense witnesses rebut testimony against Horne in campaign finance case

Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne listens to opening arguments from Yavapai Deputy County Attorney Benjamin Kreutzberg, in a hearing into allegations that Horne and political ally Kathleen Winn, violated campaign finance laws. (Photo by Tom Tingle/The Arizona Republic)

Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne listens to opening arguments from Yavapai Deputy County Attorney Benjamin Kreutzberg, in a hearing into allegations that Horne and political ally Kathleen Winn, violated campaign finance laws. (Photo by Tom Tingle/The Arizona Republic)

Several witnesses and a previously undiscovered recording of an FBI interview in the campaign finance case against Attorney General Tom Horne refuted portions of the prosecution’s case during the second day of testimony in the Office of Administrative Hearings.

A political consultant who worked with Kathleen Winn’s independent expenditure committee, called to the stand by the prosecution, took credit for the messaging in the disputed television ad and said he saw no indication of coordination between Horne and Winn. The former treasurer of Winn’s committee, Business Leaders for Arizona, testified that he played a role in crafting the ad with her as well.

And the testimony of a real estate agent who helped Horne with an October 2010 land swap led one defense attorney to accuse an FBI agent of perjury on the stand.

During the first day of testimony, the Yavapai County Attorney’s Office sought to undermine Horne and Winn’s longstanding assertion that their frequent phone calls during the waning days of the 2010 election were over a real estate deal when Winn assisted Horne, not the ad that Winn’s committee produced. FBI Agent Brian Grehoski testified on Monday that real estate agent Greg Tatham, who worked with Horne on the deal, told him and another agent that he was unaware of Winn having any involvement in Horne’s deal.

But Tatham testified on Tuesday that Grehoski and fellow Agent Mervil Mason never mentioned Winn’s name to him. That contradicted Grehoski’s testimony and a July 2012 report by Mason in which he wrote that Tatham said he was unaware of Horne consulting with Winn on the deal.

“Did you ever make that statement to these FBI agents?” Larry Debus, one of Winn’s attorneys, asked. Tatham, responded, “I did not.”

Tatham also played a recording he made of a brief telephone conversation with the agents in which Winn’s name never came up. Her name was unmentioned during another, longer recording played during Grehoski’s testimony on Monday. The agent said the FBI did not record the earlier conversation in which he and Mason asked Tatham about Winn.

“At no time was her name mentioned,” Tatham said.

Later in the hearing, Debus told Administrative Law Judge Tammy Eigenheer that the defense only became aware of the recording during Tuesday’s lunch break. He asked that it be admitted into evidence.

“When there is evidence that a witness committed perjury, it should be admitted,” Debus said.

After the hearing, Grehoski denied that he had committed perjury and said he would present evidence that backs up his testimony. Grehoski, who was not in the courtroom for Tatham’s testimony, said he had two “substantive” phone conversations with Tatham during the 2011 to 2012 investigation into Horne, not including the recording Tatham played, in which he simply scheduled another phone discussion with the FBI.

“I can’t talk about what I just recovered from our case file. But I have evidence that supports my version of the events,” Grehoski said. “As I testified, there was another conversation that did occur.”

Benjamin Kreutzberg, one of the deputy Yavapai County attorneys prosecuting the case, said the prosecution will likely call Grehoski back onto the stand on Wednesday when the hearings resume.

Political consultant Brian Murray testified about his work with Business Leaders for Arizona, including on the $500,000 ad the committee ran against Democratic nominee Felecia Rotellini. Murray said he determined which lines of attack to use against Rotellini, all of which were based on common Republican talking points from the 2010 election cycle.

The defense has repeatedly pointed out that one of the criteria used by federal election officials to determine coordination is whether the information used in advertisements is available in the public domain.

Prosecutors also asked Murray about an email Winn sent him on Oct. 20, 2010, in which she said “we” didn’t like that Rotellini’s name was mentioned four times. Murray said he doubted that such a suggestion would have come from Horne or his campaign manager because both are veteran campaigners who “knew better.”

“The overall goal of what I was trying to do was drive up her negatives,” Murray said of Rotellini. “My recollection was (Winn) probably didn’t understand the point of running a negative ad.”

Murray also said he didn’t know to whom Winn was referring when she emailed him saying “we” had issues with the ad’s wording, or when she said she had “several masters” and that “two strong personalities” were debating over the ad.

George Wilkinson, who served as BLA’s treasurer during the election, said he was likely one of the people Winn referenced. Wilkinson said that he too didn’t like how many times Rotellini’s name was mentioned.

While prosecutors have argued that Winn couldn’t have been talking to anyone except Horne when she emailed Murray about the ad – Monday’s testimony by Grehoski focused heavily on the timeline of emails between Winn and Murray and phone calls between her and Horne – Wilkinson said he had input on the ad’s content as well.

“Clearly not correct,” Wilkinson said of that theory by the FBI.

Deputy County Attorney Jack Fields asked Wilkinson about Winn’s email in which she told Murray that she had two “strong personalities” debating the ad “right now.” Wilkinson said he may have been one of the strong personalities debating over the ad, though he conceded that he wasn’t involved in those conversations at the exact moment Winn sent the email. He said he looked over the script with Winn earlier in the day on Oct. 20, 2010.

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