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Statement of Tom Horne Regarding Fiesta Bowl

PHOENIX (Thursday, April 28, 2011) --  In recent weeks, there has been news coverage of a partisan comment by the Chairman of the Democratic Party, claiming a conflict of interest on my part in handling the Fiesta Bowl investigation, and my strongly-worded response to that partisan comment.  The claim of conflict was based on the fact that some individuals mentioned in the Fiesta Bowl Report had contributed to my campaign, or served on a host committee of approximately 50 people.  This does not create a conflict.  Over 1,600 people contributed to my campaign.  They are expected to follow the law like everyone else, and there is no reason that my office cannot undertake a full, comprehensive, and fair investigation of former contributors.  I would not hesitate to prosecute them if the evidence showed a crime had been committed, or to absolve them if it showed that no crime had been committed.

However, I have concluded that this office does have a conflict relating to public officials allegedly accepting tickets or failing to report gifts.  One or more of these public officials is my client in my role as Attorney General.   In the primary election last year, I criticized my opponent for prosecuting clients.  Later, a bar investigation of that opponent found that prosecuting a client is a violation of ethical rule 1.7(a)(1).  (Findings, paragraph 95.)  These ethical requirements mandate me to transfer such matters to another agency.   To ensure that all public officials that may be subject to an investigation are treated consistently and equitably, the prosecutorial agency handling these matters should be the same.  It would be inappropriate for one agency to take a position regarding the particular conduct of one individual, and to have a separate agency take a different position regarding the same conduct committed by a another individual.  All potential defendants in the same circumstance should be treated the same way.

Accordingly, I have transferred the investigation of alleged conduct by all public officials in connection with the Fiesta Bowl case to Bill Montgomery, Maricopa County Attorney, and he has accepted that transfer.

The Arizona Attorney General’s Office will continue to do its duty to diligently investigate and prosecute, if appropriate, all remaining aspects of the Fiesta Bowl matter.