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Horne staffer, fundraiser resigns citing campaign violations

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)

A staffer at the Attorney General’s Office who volunteered as a fundraiser for Tom Horne’s re-election campaign resigned over what she called violations of campaign law within the office.

Sarah Beattie, who had worked in the constituent services department at the Attorney General’s Office since September, submitted a notice of resignation on April 22. Her last day with the office was three days later.

In her resignation email, which was obtained by the Arizona Capitol Times, Beattie said she decided to leave due to illegal activities and was concerned that she may suffer legal ramifications from them.

“I have decided to resign from the Office of the Arizona Attorney General due to the office not following campaign laws or finance laws and/or regulations and putting my legal well-being at risk,” Beattie wrote to Adria Martinez, the constituent services manager at the Attorney General’s Office.

Beattie did not specify which laws she was referring to or say how it might put her at risk. She declined to speak with the Arizona Capitol Times, other than to say that she is pursuing other opportunities.

Horne spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said the attorney general denied Beattie’s allegations.

“The AG denies her statement, and in fact, calls it a complete fabrication,” Grisham said in an email.

Grisham said Beattie never raised any concerns with anyone in the office. She said the office regularly sends out guidelines to employees regarding political activity in the office.

According to the Attorney General’s Office, Beattie’s salary jumped about 40 percent in her first three months. Beattie began working at the office in early August 2013 as an administrative assistant in the community outreach division, at a salary of $32,000. Less than two months later, she switched to the office’s constituent services division and her salary was increased to $35,000. A month later, she received a $10,000 raise, bumping her salary up to $45,000.

Grisham said the raises were due to the change in her position at the Attorney General’s Office. She said Beattie’s raises had nothing to do with her work for the Horne campaign.

“The official job title did not change, but the scope of her work changed considerably,” Grisham said.

Beattie is one of several employees at the Attorney General’s Office who has done volunteer work for Horne’s campaign. Two employees at the office, Grisham and legislative liaison Brett Mecum, have served as spokespeople for Horne’s campaign, though Grisham no longer speaks for the campaign. Both have said they do not conduct any campaign-related activities on taxpayer time.

According to Horne’s Jan. 31 campaign finance report, he reimbursed seven Attorney General’s Office employees a total of about $3,200 for campaign-related expenses.

Horne has faced allegations of campaign law improprieties before, though an administrative law judge recently recommended the dismissal of a charge that he illegally coordinated with an independent expenditure committee in 2010. Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk has not yet decided whether she will accept or reject the recommendation.

The attorney general also pleaded no contest to backing into a car and leaving the scene in a downtown Phoenix-area parking garage in 2012. He has not responded to allegations that he was having an extramarital affair with an employee to whom he gave a six-figure job.

The accusations that have followed Horne for the past two years spurred a GOP primary challenge from Mark Brnovich, a former prosecutor and director of the Arizona Department of Gaming.

 

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