- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 14, 2014

PHOENIX (AP) - Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne has been given just a week to respond to a new complaint alleging he violated state election laws by directing his executive staff to work on his re-election campaign.

State election director Christina Estes-Werther sent a letter to Horne on Tuesday giving Horne until May 21 to respond. The Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission sent its own request for a detailed response Wednesday, saying he must respond by June 2.

Former Horne staffer Sarah Beattie’s 15-page complaint says she was hired mainly to do campaign work and many of the Republican’s attorney general’s executive staff also do campaign work on taxpayer time.

Beattie’s complaint contained a number of emails that she said shows staffers doing Horne campaign work on state time.

“The plain fact of the matter is Tom Horne and the executive office is doing a substantial amount of campaigning on taxpayer money, and it is unfair to the process,” her lawyer, Tom Ryan, said when he filed the complaint on Monday. “Our Constitution mandates purity of elections, and our top police officer in the state of Arizona is violating that daily.”

Horne acknowledged that his staff does some campaign work during work hours but said it is on their own time. He issued a statement after the complaint was filed that called Beattie’s complaint the product of a bitter former employee being used by Ryan, who he called “a political hack.”

“In a political season, this entire sideshow reeks of desperation, opportunism and political games and the truth will come out,” Horne said.

The Clean Elections Commission’s letter seized on Horne’s statement that all “significant” campaign work is done off-site, at lunch or after work and asked Horne to define what he considers significant. The letter also asks for salaries for Beattie and five current workers and an explanation of how they may have used state resources.

The Secretary of State will determine whether to ask a prosecutor to investigate the allegations. The Clean Elections Commission can bring its own action if the commission believes there is evidence he violated election laws.