Richardson: Horne investigation, history puts cloud over Arizona law enforcement - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

Richardson: Horne investigation, history puts cloud over Arizona law enforcement

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Retired Mesa master police officer Bill Richardson lives in the East Valley and can be reached at bill.richardson@cox.net.

Posted: Friday, April 6, 2012 9:49 am | Updated: 10:19 am, Mon Apr 9, 2012.

The announcement this week that Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne is under criminal investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for reportedly “illegally collaborating with his campaign committee to raise campaign funds, promising a job to the leader of that committee and helping funnel money, an estimated half-million dollars, from his brother-in-law to the committee” is just the latest in a series of questionable acts involving Horne.

According to public records Horne was sanctioned for life by the U. S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Aug. 20, 1973, after the SEC conducted an investigation and concluded “it is in the public interest to revoke the broker-dealer registration of T.C. Horne & Co., Inc and that Thomas C. Horne be, and he hereby is, barred from association with any broker, dealer, investment adviser or registered investment company.”

The SEC used very strong language in its decision regarding Horne’s conduct. There’s a reason they did.

The following comes from SEC document Release No. 10008, dated Feb. 14, 1973: “Horne failed accurately to make and keep current certain books and records, violated the anti-fraud provisions of the Federal securities laws, and filed false financial reports.”

Release No. 10350, dated Aug. 20, 1973, said Horne “consented to findings of violations” and Horne “willfully aided and abetted in violations.”

Phrases like “violated the anti-fraud provisions,” and “filed false financial reports with the Commission” are strong and powerful words that go well beyond Horne’s reported descriptions of his conduct.

Horne reportedly blamed computer problems and mistakes made while working his way through school. One has to remember Horne had an undergraduate degree from Harvard University and was attending Harvard Law School, among the world's most respected and elite educational institutions, when he began a financial investment business that operated in three states and the District of Columbia.

Horne graduated from law school, filed for bankruptcy and moved to Arizona where he became licensed to practice law in 1972.

But Horne’s ability to comply with the law goes beyond his lifetime problems with the SEC. In 2010 it was reported Horne failed to properly fill out corporation papers at the Arizona Corporation Commission. Horne failed to admit he’d had a bankruptcy on Commission public records from 1997-2000. Horne’s reported excuse for this omission was that he forgot about it.

An Arizona Corporation Commission representative said, “Errors on companies’ annual reports can be referred to the Arizona attorney general for investigation.” Failing to accurately fill out a public record can be a class 6 felony.

Horne’s history of misconduct involving the SEC and his purported forgetfulness would have kept him from being a police officer. Yet now he’s Arizona’s chief law enforcement officer? While the FBI investigates Horne -- who ran as a Republican in 2010, defeating Democrat Felecia Rotellini --  for the alleged campaign violations, Gov. Jan Brewer needs to order an independent investigation into Horne’s admitted omissions on public records at the Arizona Corporation Commission. And the State Bar of Arizona needs to examine Horne’s past misconduct that brought him a lifetime ban from the SEC and his admitted failure to properly fill out public records at the Arizona Corporation Commission. According to the State Bar website it is professional misconduct to "commit a criminal act and to engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation.”

While Horne denies the allegations, it’s very telling that Jim Keppel resigned as the head of the Attorney General’s Office Criminal Division just before the FBI investigation became public? Keppel is a retired Maricopa County Superior Court judge, former prosecutor and one of the most respected attorneys in Arizona. The FBI also doesn’t just investigate someone without cause. There needs to be a good reason to open a federal investigation.

Horne joins a growing list of Arizona Republican elected law enforcement officials that are reportedly under investigation by an array of authorities.

Sadly, until Horne and his cronies are either cleared or indicted, there’s a cloud hanging over Arizona law enforcement.

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