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WATCHING THE WATCHDOG

Clean Elections Commission is the latest agency to investigate AZ attorney general

The hits just keep on coming for Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne, who is the subject of a new investigation by the Citizens Clean Elections Commission.

Sarah Beattie, a former staffer in Horne's constituent-services section, filed a complaint last month with the commission (as well as other relevant regulatory and law-enforcement agencies) alleging that she and other top staff were "performing work for the re-election campaign during official business hours," according a summary of Beattie's charges compiled by Thomas Collins, executive director of the Citizens Clean Elections Commission.

Collins noted that Horne's response to Beattie's complaint did "not resolve these issues and, in many ways, lends support to the complaint's claims or supports the inference that campaign finance violations may have occurred."

The Clean Elections Commission voted 4-0 to conduct an investigation into Beattie's allegations. Sanctions for the violations could include removing Horne from office, although no traditionally-funded candidate who did not take Clean Elections funding has ever faced that severe a punishment.

Horne is facing a separate investigation regarding campaign-finance violations related to his 2010 campaign. Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk is pursuing a complaint against Horne in Maricopa County Superior Court, although an administrative law judge ruled earlier this year that there was not enough evidence to determine that Horne illegally coordinated with an independent committee that ran a number of last-minute campaign ads in the 2010 election.

Horne is facing Mark Brnovich, a former federal, state and county prosecutor, in the Aug. 29 primary. The winner of that race will face Democrat Felecia Rotellini in the November general election.

FLIGHT BRIGADE

Congress votes to support A-10 Warthog

Supporters of the A-10 Warthog won another victory last week when the House of Representatives voted 300-114 to support an amendment that kept the close-support combat jet in the air.

The amendment, which prohibits the Pentagon from spending money to "divest, retire, transfer or place in storage, or prepare to divest, retire, transfer of place in storage any A-10 aircraft," was co-sponsored by Southern Arizona Congressman Ron Barber and Congresswoman Candice Miller (R-Mich.).

"There is no other fixed-wing aircraft that is as proficient as the A-10 in operating in rugged environments while providing the most effective close air support available," Barber said during debate on the House floor last Wednesday, June 18.

Similar language to protect the A-10 has been included the House and Senate versions of the National Defense Authorization Act.

The Obama administration is pushing to retire the A-10 fleet to save an estimated $4.2 billion through 2019, but the aircraft is one of the key missions at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base.

PET CAUSE

Animal lovers help with new washer

and dryer

A few weeks back, The Skinny mentioned that Pima County Supervisor Sharon Bronson was providing a dollar-for-dollar match of contributions to a $15,000 fundraising drive to the purchase a new industrial washer and dryer for the county's Animal Care Center.

As of Monday, June 23, the center had raised more than $8,700 in contributions, according to Bronson, who tells The Skinny that the successful drive is coming to an end. Bronson will be writing a check for $7,500, and the additional $1,200 or so will go toward helping with food and supplies for people who adopt newborn kittens and puppies with special needs.

"I'd like to thank those generous people who donated," Bronson said. "That we were able to do it so quickly shows that we have caring people in this community."

If you're interested in contributing in other ways to the Pima Animal Care Center, call 243-5984 to find out how you can help out.

SOCKPUPPET THEATER

State schools chief's online secret identities unmasked by local lefty blog

State Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal got outed as a frequent blog troll who commented via online aliases such as Falcon9 and Thucydides, an ancient Greek historian.

Huppethal 'fessed up after mainstream media outlets picked up the story first broken by Bob Lord of Blog for Arizona, a lefty blog whose posts on policy issues proved to be irresistible bait for Huppenthal. Among his assertions: People on welfare are "lazy pigs"; President Franklin D. Roosevelt "was almost completely responsible for the Great Depression" and his "disastrous economic policies drug down the whole world and directly led to the rise of a no-name policy drove the nation into the Great Depression; Darwin's theory of evolution was to blame for Hitler's effort to eradicate Jews and Planned Parenthood's alleged plot to eliminate black people; and President Barack Obama was born in Kenya.

Huppenthal told the Arizona Republic in an emailed statement that he posted anonymously because he believes "in rigorous public discourse, in furthering ideas and reforming ideologies that don't always work" and that his "position as an elected official would influence the dialog, and I was interested strictly in an exchange on issues and ideas."

He said many of his comments were being taken out of context.

Huppenthal is a staunch supporter of the Common Core learning standards, which puts him at odds with most Republican primary voters. He is facing conservative challenger Diane Douglas in the August primary.

If Huppenthal survives the primary, he'll likely face Democrat David Garcia, an associate professor at ASU and the former associate superintendent of public instruction for standards and accountability for the state of Arizona.

Garcia criticized Huppenthal for "using department of education computers to troll blogs, using language unfit for an elected official and unfit for someone in charge of our children's education."

"As the parent of public school students, I find this behavior disturbing and believe it has distracted the superintendent from dealing with serious issues facing our public schools," Garcia said in the statement to the press. "This serves as yet another reason why we need a qualified educator, not a politician, running our schools."

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