PHOENIX (CN) - Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne defamed and tried to ruin the career of a state criminal investigator who told the FBI in good faith that she believed Horne may have received $500,000 in illegal campaign contributions, the woman claims in court.
Margaret J. "Meg" Hinchey sued Attorney General Tom Horne and Chief Deputy Attorney General Richard Bistrow, in Maricopa County Court.
The lengthy complaint begins: "During the course of an unrelated internal investigation, assigned to and conducted by supervising Special Agent Margaret J. 'Meg' Hinchey, ('plaintiff'), witnesses revealed possible criminal activity implicating Attorney General Tom Horne, ('Horne') and his aide Kathleen Winn."
Eighty-one paragraphs later, the complaint adds: "Horne [also] wanted to find out who within the AGO was leaking negative information about the State Bar of Arizona licensing problems of his alleged mistress, AAG [assistant attorney general] Carmen Chenal, ('Chenal'), to the Phoenix New Times."
As for the "possible criminal activity" involving Horne and Winn, Hinchey says in her complaint: "Faced with the obvious conflict of interest in reporting this information to
Horne or to Chief Deputy Attorney General Rick Bistrow, ('Bistrow'), plaintiff correctly reported it to an outside law enforcement agency, the FBI.
"The FBI undertook an investigation that resulted, on October 2, 2012, in the Maricopa County Attorney's charging Horne and Winn with a civil penalty for Horne's receipt of approximately $500,000 in illegal campaign contributions, money raised and handled by Winn through a sham Political Action Committee.
"On about January 23, 2012, Horne learned and advised his chief deputy, defendant Rick Bistrow, ('Bistrow'), that plaintiff had been the source of the original information that prompted the FBI investigation.
"Beginning about that time Horne, Bistrow and various attorneys and aides employed with the Attorney General's Office, ('AGO'), agreed to and did launch a smear campaign intended to discredit plaintiff and are currently engaged in attempting to drive her to quit her position and to destroy her law enforcement career.
"Horne personally, Bistrow and their co-conspirators have used express and implied threats, slander, libel, spreading salacious rumors, concealment and possible destruction or obstruction of evidence implicating Horne.
"Horne has personally been involved in slander against plaintiff; Bistrow has been involved in libel, among others in the AGO acting under Horne's and Bistrow's direction.
"Horne and Bistrow, and various co-conspirators, despite the obvious conflict of interest, agreed to and did initiate a sham, illegal process to conduct an 'internal investigation' of plaintiff based on false allegations by former criminal defendants asserted in a statutory Notice of Claim.
"Horne's conduct is motivated by Horne's desire to protect himself and Winn from potential criminal and civil liability arising from illegal campaign activities.
"Horne, Bistrow and their co-conspirators continue the attack on plaintiff, now motivated by discrediting plaintiff as a potential witness against Horne and Winn in upcoming hearings to determine whether Horne will have to pay $1.5 million in civil penalties for illegal campaign financing.
"Bistrow's motivation is his desire to protect Horne and his own position of
power and authority.
"Separately, Horne's and Bistrow's attacks on plaintiff are part of Horne's persistent efforts to identify and punish employees who he deems are not loyal to him and/or who are Democrats and/or who supported his Democrat rival in the 2010 Attorney General elections, attorney Felecia Rottelini.