PHOENIX (AP) — FBI agents allege Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne left the scene of a minor automobile accident because he was having an affair with a female employee in the car he was driving and didn’t want their relationship to be reported.
An FBI report released Tuesday by Phoenix police who investigated the accident said FBI agents learned during a campaign finance investigation that Horne was having an affair with the woman, Assistant Attorney General Carmen Chenal, and that they used her apartment as a rendezvous site.
“Though motive is not an element of the criminal statute listed above,” the report said, referring to Arizona’s hit-and-run law, “it stands to reason that Horne did not want any record of his presence in the parking garage of Chenal’s apartment complex thus he did not leave a note.”
The parking garage for Chenal’s apartment complex was the scene of the accident, which occurred as Horne backed into a parked Range Rover while driving a car that Chenal had borrowed from a co-worker. Horne was cited last week on a misdemeanor charge of leaving the scene of a collision or unattended vehicle.
The FBI report was among documents, evidence photos and audio recordings of interviews released to The Associated Press under a public records request.
Chenal declined comment when contacted Tuesday by the AP, and Horne did not immediately return a call for comment.
He previously declined comment on whether he was having an affair with Chenal, but he has said repeatedly he didn’t leave his name and address because he didn’t know there was any damage to the parked vehicle.
FBI agents had Horne under surveillance when the accident occurred and witnessed it. They haven’t said specifically why they were tailing Horne.
The FBI report described scratches and paint chipping on the bumper of the Range Rover. But it said the vehicle’s owner said he didn’t know his vehicle had been struck until the FBI contacted him and he said his son was responsible for one of the marks on the vehicle’s bumper, the FBI report said.
The documents released by police included a repair shop’s estimate for $1,080 for repairs.
Horne issued a brief statement in response to the release of the records. He said his accident may have caused no damage.
“At worst, pictures show nothing but some scratched paint,” Horne’s statement said. “‘Hit and run’ is a misleading image for, at worst, paint scratches with no dents.”
In a recorded interview with police, Chanel said she looked out the borrowed car’s window and saw no damage to the other vehicle.
“I’m looking at that first car that was directly behind him and I did not see a scratch, and I told him I did not see anything,” Chenal said, referring to Horne.
Chenal said Horne paid approximately $100 to buff out scratches in the finish of the borrowed car.
In another interview, Horne spokeswoman Amy Rezzonico said Horne “looked like a ghost” when he told her that the FBI had interviewed the owner of the borrowed car, another attorney general’s employee.
Horne, a Republican former state superintendent of public instruction and ex-legislator, has denied wrongdoing in the campaign finance case, which is a civil matter. It centers on allegations that Horne and a political associate improperly coordinated his 2010 election campaign with a group that was supposed to operate separately.
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