Campaign finance reports occasionally reveal a donation or two that can place a political candidate in the awkward position of having to defend a donor. Oftentimes the candidate is unaware of the controversy until notified by a persistent pesky reporter or the opposing campaigns.
However, it’s also not often that a donor rises to the level of being at the center of what many believe is the biggest scandal of the scandal-plagued Obama administration.
Once such donation is to Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne, who accepted a political contribution of $500 from Patrick Cunningham on February 13, 2014. If Cunningham’s name sounds familiar it’s because he was named as a co-conspirator in the Fast and Furious scandal.
The Chair of the House committee that investigated the Fast and Furious scandal, Congressman Darrell Issa, went as far as to say that “Mr. Cunningham may have engaged in criminal conduct with respect to Fast and Furious…” and that his refusal to testify before congress was a “…major escalation of the department’s culpability.”
Justice Department officials even claimed Cunningham misinformed them about Fast and Furious. The conservative local blog SeeingRed AZ previously covered the scandal here.
The Operation Fast & Furious “gun walking” saga placed hundreds of guns into the hands of Mexican drug cartels. The scandal had a distinct Arizona connection. The firearms were sold and bought in the Phoenix and Tucson metro areas, and ultimately one the guns was used to murder Arizona Border Patrol agent Brian Terry.
Arizona U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke, the former Chief of Staff to former Governor Janet Napolitano, ran the Fast and Furious operation. Burke eventually walked away from charges and resigned from his post despite his fingerprints being all over the scandal. Many considered Burke to be the sacrificial lamb for the Obama Administration.
Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa criticized the U.S. Attorney’s office including Cunningham and Burke for their obstruction in the case:
“The U.S. Attorney’s Office advised ATF that agents needed to meet unnecessarily strict evidentiary standards in order to speak with suspects, temporarily detain them, or interdict weapons,” Chairman Issa said. “ATF’s reliance on this advice from the U.S. Attorney’s Office during Fast and Furious resulted in many lost opportunities to interdict weapons.”
Advice and management from people like Dennis Burke and Patrick Cunningham.
Patrick Cunningham worked directly under Burke as the chief of the criminal division. Cunningham was called before Issa’s committee to testify, but ultimately he plead the 5th rather than incriminate himself, Burke, and members of the Obama Administration. Cunningham was allowed to resign his position and eventually he accepted a position working for HighGround Public Affairs in Phoenix. Ironically, HighGround now serves as a campaign consultant to Tom Horne’s re-election bid.
Cunningham provided the inaccurate (or false) information to Senator Grassley and the Justice Department that the ATF (which was overseeing the program with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arizona) never intentionally allowed the the guns to cross the border or knowingly allowed the sale of weapons to suspicious straw buyers. That was obviously later proven false and the Justice Department later took the unprecedented step of pulling the letter they sent to Congress.
While Tom Horne attacks his Republican opponent, Mark Brnovich, for a $120 donation made to a Democrat back in 2006, Tom Horne is actively soliciting donations from Democrats.
Tom Horne is running on a message of border security and fighting back against Obama this cycle, but how can you truly trust Tom Horne to secure the border and fight the overreach of the federal government when he’s receiving financial support from the very people who were engaged in the Obama Administration’s Fast and Furious cover up?
Editor’s note and correction: This post was in error regarding the political affiliation of Patrick Cunningham. A representative of High Ground clarified Cunningham has been a registered Republican since the early 70’s.