Whistle-blower accuses Attorney General of campaign violations

April 02, 2012

A lawyer from the office of Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne says the state’s top prosecutor engaged in illegal and unethical conduct during his 2010 campaign.

A complaint filed Feb. 11 with the Secretary of State’s office outlines the allegations.

The document accuses Horne of promising executive-level employment at the attorney general's office in exchange for raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for Horne’s election effort. The money was used to launch a barrage of advertisements against Horne’s opponent, Democrat Felicia Rotellini, according to the complaint.  

"I am not at liberty to discuss this matter," said Don Dybus, the lawyer in the attorney general's Tucson office who filed the complaint.  "I do not have a 'side' other than being ethical. The disclosure to the Secretary of State speaks for itself."

The staffer in question, who allegedly received the job of outreach director in return for fundraising through an independent group, is Kathleen Winn. The Arizona Capitol Times, which first reported the story, says the FBI is investigating.

Winn did not return a request for comment but the attorney general's office said the allegations are false. 

"There was never a promise made to hire Kathleen Winn," spokeswoman Amy Rezzonico wrote in a statement.  "Kathleen Winn was not the first choice for that job. The offer was first made to Kim Owens, who decided she wanted to pursue other avenues in the private sector. Only then was the offer made to Kathleen Winn, based on her qualifications, and the confidence Tom Horne had developed in her during the primary." 

Dybus was going to be fired from the agency for underperforming, according Horne. The attorney general's office claims he wrote the complaint after he learned he might lose his job.

"These charges were made by a disgruntled employee who was about to be fired, who knows that if you make charges then it’s harder to fire you," Horne said. "So it was a tactic to hold on to his job longer." 

In an email written by Dybus -- and recieved after the attorney general's statement was released -- Horne and another top manager were warned against making false and disparaging remarks to the media.

Rezzonico forwarded the email to reporters. 

"This would include giving an inaccurate and self-serving rationale to the media for my making the disclosure to the Secretary of State," Dybus wrote to Horne. "Any such statement will be treated and responded to as a 'reprisal' which violates the state’s whistleblower statute. It is not in your best interests to go on the attack against me to any degree ... Govern yourself accordingly."

Updated 4/2/2012 at 5:56 p.m.





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