State bar investigating AG Horne - East Valley Tribune: Politics

State bar investigating AG Horne

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Posted: Tuesday, December 4, 2012 8:46 am | Updated: 6:08 pm, Thu Dec 20, 2012.

The State Bar of Arizona is investigating Tom Horne, adding to the legal woes of the state's top lawyer.

Bar spokesman Rick DeBruhl confirmed for Capitol Media Services that his organization was looking into a complaint that the attorney general violated rules which govern the conduct of lawyers. If an investigatory committee finds violations, a disciplinary panel could impose sanctions, from a reprimand to being disbarred.

DeBruhl said there are two key areas of scrutiny.

One stems from an investigation of Horne by the FBI into allegations that he broke campaign finance laws in his 2010 election by illegally coordinating his efforts with that of what was supposed to be an independent committee.

Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery already has concluded there was a violation of the statutes which require separation of such efforts and wants a civil penalty against both campaigns. But both Horne and Kathleen Winn, who ran the independent campaign and works for Horne at the Attorney General's Office, have denied wrongdoing.

The case is set to go to a hearing next month.

DeBruhl also said the Bar is looking into allegations that Horne, driving someone else's car, left the scene after hitting another vehicle.

That incident was witnessed by two FBI investigators who were tailing Horne as part of that campaign finance inquiry. Phoenix police, saying the damage to the other vehicle totaled slightly more than $1,000, subsequently charged him with leaving the scene of an accident; he is tentatively set to be in city court later this month.

Horne has said he does not recall hitting another vehicle but conceded it might have happened.

In a prepared statement, Horne said the fact the Bar is looking at the issue means nothing.

"Any time someone makes a complaint to the State Bar, the State Bar investigates the complaint,'' he said, noting it does not become a formal "complaint'' against an attorney until the organization decides it has at least some merit. "There has been no decision by the State Bar to make a complaint in this case.''

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