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AG’s Office internal probe of misconduct won’t be made public

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)

The internal investigation report that will detail whether employees of the Arizona Attorney General’s Office worked on Tom Horne’s campaign during office hours and with office resources is going to be kept secret.

Horne spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said the report will be kept confidential because its contents will be protected by attorney-client privilege and state personnel rules. She said the Attorney General’s Office is considered the client since it hired the two attorneys who will conduct the investigation.

Grisham said the office will not be able to disclose whether anyone gets fired because of the investigation.

Horne’s chief deputy, Rick Bistrow, hired attorney and lobbyist John Kaites, defense attorney David Derickson, retired homicide detective Don Vogel and retired FBI agent Michael McAndrews June 18 to conduct the investigation. They will be looking into former staffer Sarah Beattie’s claims that Horne and his staff violated state law and Attorney General policy prohibiting the use of government resources for campaigns.

Beattie’s attorney, Tom Ryan, said June 27 that she will not cooperate with the investigation. However, she will cooperate with an investigation by the Citizens Clean Elections Commission, which is looking into the same claims.

Ryan agreed that the internal investigative report would fall under attorney-client privilege, but said that clients are able to waive the privilege.

“This is not for public consumption, this is for Tom Horne’s benefit,” Ryan said.  “If the whole idea of doing this was somehow to give a greater sense of confidence in this office to the people of Arizona, they have blown it by a mile.”

Kaites and Derickson have both contributed money to Horne’s campaign over the years, and members of their law firm, Ridenhour Hienton & Lewis, have contributed more than $6,000.

Grisham defended the choice, saying both attorneys have impeccable ethical reputations.

“They have been given strict instructions to follow any and all leads wherever that may or may not take them, and they are to be fair, impartial and thorough, so the Attorney General’s office, not Tom Horne, can take appropriate action if it is warranted,” Grisham said.

Grisham said only Dennis Carpenter, Employment Law Section Chief, and Rick Rice, Chief Counsel of the Civil Division, will see the report.

She said that Rice will make the final disciplinary decisions on employees, if necessary.

The investigation will determine if Horne, Chief of Staff Margaret Dugan, and staffers Kathleen Winn, Debra Scordato, Brett Mecum, Garrett Archer, and Beattie broke the law.

The Citizens Clean Elections Commission voted June 19 to conduct its own investigation of Beattie’s claims. The commission could fine Horne or remove him from office if it finds he committed any violations.

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