Arizona Attorney General in Political Dogfight
PHOENIX (CN) - Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne sued the Maricopa County Attorney's Office on Monday, to try to stop County Attorney Bill Montgomery from investigating Horne's alleged campaign violations, claiming Montgomery's support of Horne's political opponent is a conflict of interest.
Horne sued the Maricopa County Attorney's Office in Maricopa County Court. Maricopa County includes Phoenix, the state capital.
Horne claims Montgomery's investigation of Horne and his campaign should be conducted by another agency, because Montgomery is an active supporter of Horne's opponent, Mark Brnovich.
All three are Republicans.
Montgomery has campaigned for Brnovich, and against Horne, and called on Horne to resign in a press conference.
"This masked [sic] it unethical, illegal, unconstitutional, and a violation of civil rights laws, for Montgomery or his officer to engage in an investigation of Horne or any others that may be targets of this investigation," the lawsuit states.
Former Horne staffer Sarah Beattie filed a complaint with Montgomery's office in May, claiming that Horne's employees used state time to seek campaign donations for Horne's re-election bid.
According to the complaint, Montgomery has claimed he is screened from the investigation into Horne, but Horne says that is not enough.
"His subordinates know what he wants," Horne says. "They rely upon Montgomery for their livelihood. If there is a charge made before the primary election, regardless of whether the evidence for it is credible or not, this can help elect Montgomery's protégé, Brnovich, and help defeat Montgomery's political adversary, Horne."
Horne sued Montgomery's office in 2013, when Montgomery tried to institute a civil enforcement action against Horne after he allegedly received about $500,000 in illegal campaign contributions.
"An administrative law judge ruled that Montgomery lacked jurisdiction," the new complaint states. "Montgomery ignored this ruling and attempted to proceed anyway. The case had to go to a superior court judge to tell Montgomery that he had to stop because he had no jurisdiction."
The case went to trial, and an administrative law judge ruled for Horne on every allegation.
The new lawsuit states that Montgomery has "assigned to this case people who were in charge of the earlier coordination accusation. They not only had the case taken away from them because of conflict issue, but a neutral judge found their purported charges ... were false."
Horne wants the Maricopa County Attorney's Office enjoined from proceeding with its investigation.
He is represented by Michael Kimerer of Kimerer and Derrick.