TUCSON, Ariz. (Legal Newsline) -- Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne reportedly is suing a group that has been running negative ads against him.
Horne is running for re-election next year. He is facing Mark Brnovich, the state's former gaming department director, for the GOP nomination.
Earlier this month, the Arizona Public Integrity Alliance launched a statewide "public education effort" via print, television and the Internet to call attention to Horne's "unethical behavior."
Last month, Horne was ordered by Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk to repay $400,000 in funds due to illegal campaign coordination with an independent expenditure committee.
The attorney general refuses to pay the money, and plans to fight the order.
The AZPIA, in its ads, contends Horne should comply with the order. Failure to do so, it says, undermines his credibility.
"We believe Tom Horne has demonstrated a pattern of unethical behavior," AZPIA Chairman Steve Cox said in a Nov. 8 statement.
"We are particularly concerned that he is on the record saying he doesn't intend to repay the $400,000 he has been ordered to repay. He must believe the public doesn't care. We care. And, as a result of our ad campaign, Mr. Horne will find that everyone expects more from our leaders."
The group's ads also allege he was having an affair with a woman he hired and that the two were together when Horne was involved in a hit-and-run accident in a parking garage.
"Tom Horne is Arizona's top attorney. His personal behavior and his failure to immediately obey this compliance order create a crisis of trust," Pace Ellsworth, AZPIA treasurer, said in a statement. "How can he demand others comply with the very laws he disregards?"
According to The Arizona Republic, Horne is suing the AZPIA for defamation. He is requesting a jury trial and seeking punitive damages.
From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.