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Maricopa County prosecutors are lodging a civil enforcement action against Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne for alleged campaign finance violations during his 2010 campaign.

Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery says the allegations stem from an FBI investigation into $500,000 of spending by a independent expenditure group. According to prosecutors, Horne directed the group's fundraising and communications strategy, along with an ally.

State law prohibits coordination between campaigns and independent expenditure committees. They are supposed to act independently to support or oppose candidates. Montgomery says that the violation isn’t enough to be considered a crime under law, but the penalties do involve heavy fines. Montgomery says there could be a civil penalty of up to $1.5 million.

But he tells The Associated Press that no individual would be held personally responsible and that there's no penalty if the groups refund larger-than-allowed contributions.

The AP quotes Horne as saying the allegations are false and that there was no coordination between his campaign and the other group.

Horne defeated Democrat Felecia Rotellini in November 2010 to become the state's attorney general.

Read the press release from the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, announcing the action against Horne:

horne-civil-action: View at Google Docs | Download File