Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne has attracted national headlines recently with his spirited appearance in litigation defending the “sanctity of marriage” by blocking basic benefits for same-sex couples. That defense however may be more theoretical for the top state lawyer. Horne was reportedly being followed by the FBI investigating alleged campaign finance violations. The agents say that they watched as Horne struck another car causing $1000 damage to avoid disclosure of an affair with his passenger. The passenger has been identified in news accounts as Carmen Chenal, who works for Horne.
Chenal is the former state superintendent of education and is paid $108,000 in working for Horne in handling foreign extraditions. Chenal has been described as a suspended lawyers with a history including “DUI charge pleaded down to reckless driving, a bankruptcy, and a history of mental and physical issues.” She has been suspended as a lawyer for four months and ordered to pay $2,500 in restitution to a client. She was later placed on probation for two years by the bar.
Horne was allegedly driving a borrowed vehicle and ran into a white Range Rover in the parking garage of a Phoenix apartment complex. According to reports, Chenal left the Attorney General’s Office that day in a Volkswagen she’d borrowed from fellow employee Linnea Heap. Five minutes later, Horne left in his own gold Jaguar and met Chenal in a parking garage. He switched cars and left with Chenal “wearing a baseball hat,” according to the FBI. When they could not get into the entrance of the apartment garage, the agents say that Horne “attempted to back up to exit the parking structure and hit the front passenger side of a white Range Rover with the rear passenger side of the Passat.” They then entered the resident entrance gate.
Horne was not exactly helped by statements from Amy Rezonnico, AG Public Information Officer: “It was a Monday morning. He came in and he looked like a ghost and he, um, um, I asked him what was the matter. I said why did you do that and um, he didn’t really have any good answer other than they looked and that there was they couldn’t see any damage.” That was the AG’s own public relations person.
Horne insists that he did not realize that he caused any damage — though he acknowledged that it caused damage to his car. He further denies that claim by FBI agent Brian Grehoski that he didn’t leave a note for the other driver in order to conceal an extramarital affair. He insists that a grand is nothing for him and he would have simply paid for the damage.
Horne has gone on the attack and asked why he was being followed and surveilled.
There is considerable doubt raised by Horne over the estimate for a little paint and scratches. Here is a statement published from Horne:
The FBI report states: “Montano [the owner of the other vehicle] advised that he was unaware that his vehicle had been hit by another vehicle until FBI Agent Grehoski called him to arrange for the interview. Montano advised that the black mark on the front passenger side of the bumper came from when his son was parking the vehicle in the garage.” The incident may have caused no damage to that vehicle. At worst, pictures show nothing but some scratched paint. “Hit and Run” is a misleading image for, at worst, paint scratches with no dents.
If I had been aware there was damage, I would have left contact information. The parking area is the main parking area for people who have lunch at Pita Jungle and other restaurants in the immediate area. Leaving contact information for a paint scratch in that area would have been irrelevant to whether there was a passenger or not, and the FBI agent’s speculations are without basis.
No one has explained why FBI Agents, investigating whether there were alleged campaign finance violations in 2010, were surveilling me in 2012.
That could very well be true, but the scratches might not seem as pressing a question for a family values politicians than the alleged affair with an employee with greater detail.
In August, Horne filed a lawsuit with the U.S. Supreme Court to defend the ability of the state to repeal the domestic partners insurance for state employees. Stripping these couples of basic protections in his view “furthers the State’s interest in promoting marriage.”
Indeed, he could add that such benefits do not even scratch the surface of the controversy.
Source: AZ Star