Saturday, April 08, 2006

Horn's Career My Go Up River With the Duke-Stir

San Diego County Supervisor Bill Horn may find his re-election chances further diminished by yesterday’s disclosure that he spent time with convicted Republican felon Randy “Duke” Cunningham on his yacht the Duke-Stir.

Horn’s visit with Cunningham was part of a ten day lobbying trip that Horn and his chief of staff, Joan Wonsley, took in August of 2003. A lobbying trip that took them to Washington when Congress was in recess and most legislators were out of town.

Republican Horn, who was first elected to the County Board of Supervisors in 1995, faces a tough primary fight against fellow Republican, Bruce Thompson.

Having a beer with Cunningham on the Duke-Stir wouldn’t have been such a big issue was it not for other allegations that have been swirling around Horn in recent weeks. Allegations of both financial and personal misconduct that directly involve Horn and Wonsley.

In mid-March, during a public question and answer session of a county supervisor’s meeting, Horn was asked to explain the fact that Wonsley lives in a million dollar home owned by Horn. Included in that question was an allegation that Horn lives or has lived at various times with Wonsley in the home.

Horn and the house deal first came under fire three weeks ago, when retired Salk Institute biology professor Ian Trowbridge asked Horn at a board meeting why Wonsley was living in his million-dollar home, and where Horn himself lived.

Horn responded that Wonsley and he had entered a "lease-option" agreement on the six-bedroom, 5 1/2 bath
Carlsbad home. Horn has since clarified that the deal was an "equity-share" agreement that protects him from paying taxes on the $349,000 until the house is sold again, and makes Wonsley co-owner.

Horn also told Trowbridge that he lived at his
Valley Center ranch with his wife, Kathleen.

However, it later came to light that in addition to Horn's failure to report the $349,000 on his financial disclosure forms, Wonsley had also given false addresses on campaign finance forms ---- hiding the fact that she lived in the
Carlsbad home.

The financial aspects of the Horn/Wonsley arrangement forced Horn to revise his 2004 and 2005 financial disclosure forms. The personal aspects of the arrangement forced Horn to defend his relationship with Wonsley and opened up further questions as to why Wonsley was so willing to put $349,000 of her own money into a home owned by Horn.

Critics immediately suggested that the pair purposely tried to hide the deal, possibly to conceal their relationship, or to hide the $349,000 that Wonsley gave Horn to protect it from a civil lawsuit filed against Wonsley's daughter, Brooke.

Brooke Wonsley was arrested in 2003 on charges she stabbed her boyfriend in an argument at Joan Wonsley's condominium. The charge was initially a felony, but was reduced to a misdemeanor. The ex-boyfriend filed a civil suit against Brooke Wonsley in 2005.
Disclosure of the Horn/Wonsley financial arrangements was bad enough for Horn. The revelations of the complex nature of their personal relationship, which had been a subject of speculation in the county for a long time, gives Horn’s critics more ammunition. This most recent disclosure that Horn and Wonsley took an extended lobbying trip together that included time on the Duke-Stir with Cunningham just adds more fuel to the fire and keeps the story alive.