FBI says Horne clipped car, drove off to hide affair

2012-10-31T00:00:00Z 2012-11-02T13:15:34Z FBI says Horne clipped car, drove off to hide affairHoward Fischer Capitol Media Services Arizona Daily Star
October 31, 2012 12:00 am  • 

PHOENIX - Tom Horne caused more than $1,000 worth of damage when he clipped another car in a parking garage and just drove off, in order, according to FBI agents, to conceal an affair he was having with his passenger.

Phoenix police records obtained Tuesday include detailed witness accounts by FBI agents who were following Horne, Arizona's attorney general, on March 27 as part of a campaign finance investigation. They said they watched him back his borrowed vehicle into a white Range Rover in the parking garage of a Phoenix residential complex.

FBI agents said that after the fender-bender, Horne and the woman, since identified as Carmen Chenal, who works for Horne, walked off and entered the residential area of the complex where Chenal lives.

Horne acknowledged Tuesday the incident did cause some scrapes to the borrowed car he was driving, but maintained he did not know there was any damage to the other vehicle.

He said assertions by FBI agent Brian Grehoski that he didn't leave a note for the other driver in order to conceal an extramarital affair are "completely baseless."

"If I thought there was damage, why wouldn't I have left a note?" Horne said. "It's no big deal for me to pay somebody $1,000."

FBI reports say Horne had no way to know if the other vehicle was damaged because after the accident he and his passenger sat in their vehicle for about 10 seconds and then drove off.

"Nobody checked the damage on the car," FBI agent Merv Mason wrote in his report. "They weren't even at an angle where they could see the damage to the car. And then they drove away."

Horne lashed out at the FBI for tailing him in the first place.

The federal inquiry involves claims of campaign finance violations in his successful 2010 bid for attorney general, and allegations Horne illegally coordinated efforts with an independent expenditure committee that raised $513,340 in support of his election. That issue is awaiting a hearing before an administrative law judge.

"What were they doing surveilling me?" Horne asked. "It seems to me that's something that people should raise."

"We have no comment at this time," responded FBI spokesman Manuel Johnson.

The FBI report details how Chenal left the Attorney General's Office that day in a Volkswagen she'd borrowed from Linnea Heap, another employee at the office. Five minutes later, Horne left in his own gold Jaguar.

According to the report, they met up at a parking garage and emerged several minutes later with Horne, now wearing a baseball cap, driving the Volkswagen.

From there, they went to the residential parking section of a garage at 202 W. Roosevelt St.

When the gate to the residents' parking section did not open, the FBI report says, "Horne attempted to back up to exit the parking structure and hit the front passenger side of a white Range Rover with the rear passenger side of the Passat."

According to the FBI, he then drove to the visitors' parking area on the lower level where the two "walked to the resident entrance gate, entered a code and entered the resident area of the building."

Heap later told FBI agents that Chenal had informed her of the accident that day. "She said the damage to your car is very minor, it's just paint, and the other car wasn't damaged," the FBI report quotes Heap saying.

Chenal, in an interview with Phoenix police, said she was aware of "a very superficial scratch" on Heap's vehicle. Chenal, however, said she told Heap about the incident two or three weeks later.

Chenal told the FBI she saw no damage to the other vehicle.

On Tuesday, Horne said he saw no damage that day to the other vehicle. And he said the repair estimate of $1,071 means nothing.

"It looks like they're charging a lot for painting to me," he said. He pointed out that one of the FBI agents even said during one of the interviews that virtually any damage to a Range Rover costs at least $1,000.

What is less than clear is what damage Horne caused.

A photo released by Phoenix police shows some damage to the right front bumper of the Range Rover along with a black mark. But police said the owner, Kevin Montano, told them the mark had been caused earlier by his son.

Mason, in an interview with Heap, described the damage as taking off "all the paint" all the way down "to whatever the bumper's made of."

FBI agent Grehoski made it clear in several of the interview transcripts released that he believes Horne was hiding something.

"You know, we've heard that Tom is supposed to be honest to a fault," he told Heap during an interview about a month after the accident.

"But he isn't," Grehoski continued. "He's driving someone else's car, crashed, and left the scene of an accident. Having some rendezvous with Carmen in her apartment. I mean, that's not ethical. That's not honest. That's slimy."

And in an interview with Amy Rezzonico, the spokeswoman for Horne's office, Grehoski says outright, "You've got a guy having an affair."

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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