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FBI says Tom Horne hit-and-run was to hide affair
Attorney general responds to agents' accusations, speaking to KGUN9 News
“It doesn't seem like an ethical investigation," Tom Horne said of the bureau's case. Video by kgun9.comvideo
Horne walking out a door with Carmen Chenal, one of his staff attorneys. The FBI says Horne has been having an affair with her.
Agents urged Horne staff members to protect themselves and stop protecting him.
Horne spoke with 9 On Your Side on the condition of not talking about employee Chenal.
Reporter: Craig Smith
PHOENIX (KGUN9-TV) - Why is the FBI investigating a minor hit-and-run accident?
9 On Your Side has been combing through documents provided in the FBI probe of Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne.
How this state misdemeanor came to command so much federal manpower is still a mystery. But one thing is very clear: agents said some really nasty things about Horne to some of his employees.
Horne told 9 On Your Side Wednesday he doesn't regard the incident as a hit and run.
“It's a bump with no dent on either car; some scrapped paint,” Horne said. “It seems like a little bit overdramatic to call it a ‘hit-and-run.’ But certainly, if I’d known any damage at all, I would've left my contact information -- been happy to pay for it.”
Be that as it may, FBI agents used the incident as a reason tell two of Horne's employees he was having an affair, has indulged in ethical violations and is not their friend.
A lot of Federal law enforcement resources focused on a Phoenix parking garage for a non-Federal offense where $500 is the maximum fine.
9 On Your Side doesn't know why the FBI has been investigating Attorney General Tom Horne. However, campaign violations may be at least part of it and agents were following Horne in late March.
Horne stops short of saying it smells very political.
KGUN9 reporter Craig Smith asked Horne: "Do you think officials of a Democratic administration are specifically targeting a Republican official now?"
Horne: "I have no evidence, all that...I'm repeating to you is what people have been saying to me which is they can't think of any reason they would be surveilling me in 2012 when they're supposed to be investigating whether or not something happened in 2010."
Agents said Horne was with an employee named Carmen Chenal. They were in a borrowed car in the garage to her apartment when agents saw him back into an SUV and drive off.
FBI agents said they knew Horne was having an affair with Chenal -- his employee -- so he didn't want to leave proof that he was at her apartment building.
Horne agreed to talk to KGUN9 News, as long as we agreed not to ask about Chenal.
Agents used the "Tough Cop, Nice Cop" approach with Horne's Public Information Officer and the woman who lent out her car. Agents urged them not to risk themselves and said Horne is not their friend.
On conflicting accounts of the accident, one said: "He's just flat lying to you."
An agent went on to say: "He's not as ethical as everyone's making him out to be."
Other comments included: "You've got a guy having an affair. You've got a guy (in a) hit and run."
Craig Smith asked Horne: "When agents use terms like that and those terms come out, how does this affect your ability to function as Attorney General?"
Horne: "It doesn't affect my ability to function as Attorney General. I'm doing more legal work as Attorney General than any of my predecessors."
Agents really turned the screws, threatening the interviewees about lying.
One said, "You've a son, husband, house. If you didn't do anything wrong, you need to really take some time to think about where your loyalties lie and what's important to you. Because these people aren't -- they're lying to you."
“A lot of times they were trying to intimidate people, calling me names," Horne said. "But also (they were) intimidating witnesses -- who were telling what they thought was the truth -- to try to get them to tell them what they wanted to hear."
Horne added, “It doesn't seem like an ethical investigation.”
9 On Your Side tried contacting the FBI, but the organization declined to comment.