At a 2010 primary-victory party, Horne’s California brother-in-law, Richard Newman, asked Horne if there was anything he could do to help during the general election. Horne directed Newman to talk to Winn, who was also at the party. “Well, I know Tom said that it was – it was an independent committee,” Newman told investigators.
Newman donated $115,000 total to the committee. In the days leading up to an initial $15,000 donation, investigators said phone records showed more frequent communication between Horne and his sister and between Horne and Newman. After Newman’s first $15,000 check did not arrive as quickly as it was needed, he sent a second check. That check “was delivered to Tom’s home and left” near the front door, according to an Oct. 21, 2010 e-mail to Newman from his assistant.
Lucia de Vernai, an attorney general’s legal assistant, told investigators that Winn talked openly to Horne’s campaign workers about her involvement with the independent-expenditure committee in the weeks following the primary and intensified in October 2010. De Vernai said Winn would stop by Horne’s campaign headquarters and “talk to Tom, you know, kind of in the corner.”
Former Assistant Attorney General Ron Lebowitz said he believed Winn was working with Horne’s campaign in October 2010 when she came to Lebowitz’s house to pick up an $840 check. Lebowitz said Winn told him to make the check payable to the independent-expenditure committee and told him the maximum amount he could donate was $840 – the same limit for an individual donating to a candidate
Hinchey’s notes said that on Oct. 7, 2011, Horne asked her and her boss, Rubalcava, if he could tell them about something he may have learned as a result of someone listening to another person’s phone call in the office. The investigators said there could be potential criminal implications. “He said he knew that and thus wanted to ask Rubalcava and I if we would promise not to investigate or report it as a crime,” Hinchey wrote.
Hinchey and Rubalcava said they could not because it would violate their oaths as law-enforcement officers. Hinchey wrote that she told Horne, “I also advised AG Horne that if he, as the top law-enforcement officer in the state, knew of a possible crime and withheld that information, it would not look good for him or be a good idea.”
The county has offered as evidence that Horne and Winn were on the phone as she was e-mailing Murray about a Rotellini attack ad. In their response, Horne and Winn deny that allegation, saying the phone call was unrelated to the campaign. They also said Winn did not send Murray a response until two minutes after the phone call ended..
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