Here are some excerpts from the article by Jeremy Duda -
The crux of Polk’s case is a series of phone calls between Horne and Winn that occurred while Winn was communicating via email with Brian Murray, BLA’s political consultant. While Polk and Montgomery have presented the calls and emails as evidence of coordination, Horne and Winn say prosecutors can’t prove they were talking about the attorney general’s race or BLA activities. They say the calls were about Winn assisting Horne with a real estate deal.
As evidence of coordination, Polk cited the timing of Winn’s phone calls with Horne and her emails with BLA’s consultant. In some cases, the calls closely followed Murray’s emails to Winn about the BLA ad, and Winn’s responses to her consultant came just after her conversations with Horne ended. Horne also forwarded Winn an email several days later in which one of his campaign staffers discussed Horne’s campaign strategy, and urged her to raise more money from a national Republican group. And Polk’s case is bolstered by the fact that Winn worked on Horne’s campaign, and didn’t leave to work on her IE until a few weeks after the GOP primary.
Several elections attorneys emphasized that Polk will have to meet a relatively low standard of proof. While prosecutors in criminal cases must convince juries that a defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, civil cases such as Horne and Winn’s are held to a lower standard called “preponderance of evidence,” meaning that Polk only has to show that a violation was more likely than not.
In her order, Polk said the evidence against Horne and Winn is compelling. She said the phone conversations between them while Winn and Murray discussed the content of the ad via email shows that they coordinated their efforts. Winn’s comments to Murray about how “we” wanted certain changes to the ad show she was consulting with someone else, and Polk insisted that person must be Horne.
“Winn almost always consulted with Horne prior to instructing Murray,” Polk wrote in her Oct. 17 order.
“When Horne sent strategic information to a supposedly independent campaign, he intentionally and blatantly broke the barrier that was supposed to exist between his campaign and BLA. The breach is so clear that Horne must have recognized it to be improper,” Polk wrote.
Polk ordered Horne and Winn to repay about $400,000 that the prosecutor alleges was illegally contributed to BLA, and they could face a fine of up to $1.2 million if they lose the case.