Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne is having a very bad month. Early last week, a former employee resigned from his office and complained that Horne and his senior staff were using staff and state resources to promote his reelection. The story gained some traction amid reports that one of Horne’s top advisers would resign, and that “Some staffers are seeking or plan to seek advice from private attorneys in the wake of [the] allegations.”
Then, just as that news was capturing headlines, Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk announced that she will move forward with a case concerning potential violations of campaign-finance law during Horne’s 2010 campaign. To hammer the theme home, the Arizona Public Integrity Alliance, a conservative group, is now running a TV ad (below) calling on Horne to resign, focusing on what a columnist for the Arizona Republic described as “Horne’s hit-and-run fender bender in 2012, while on a not-so-secret lunchtime rendezvous with the suspected girlfriend whom he hired to a six-figure state salary.” As the same columnist put it: ”On of a scale of one being a disaster and ten being a flat-out catastrophe, last week had to weigh in at about an eleven for Attorney General Tom Horne.”
I don’t know whether these allegations are true. Horne needs to come clean as soon as possible. But the old phrase “where there is smoke, there is fire” seems inadequate to the moment, since right now Horne looks like he is the only person willing to stay in the building while it burns down. As my colleagues and I have explained before, no set of public officials have demonstrated more willingness and capacity to challenge the Obama administration’s overreach than the states’ attorneys general. Tom Horne may sympathize with that mission, but his problems are escalating at an alarming pace, compromising his ability to meaningfully engage in the fight for limited constitutional government. He should resign.