Hired hands brought in to fell Mecham

I am reasonably certain that out-of-state telemarketing companies were retained to raise money and conduct a campaign against Evan Mecham. I have no solid proof of the fund-raising, but the president of a telemarketing company in California admitted that his staff was making anti-Mecham calls into Arizona. See: Demos dub Mecham allegations ‘pathetic’.

In my second week on the job as Governor Mecham’s press secretary, one of his supporters (a Democrat, by the way) told me about a call she had received from a telemarketer. During the prepared spiel about the need for money to recall Mecham, the telemarketer interjected that he was tired of the heavy rain that day. He had introduced himself as a fellow Arizona Democrat.

But, she told me, it was a cloudless day in Phoenix and all over Arizona. She asked the telemarketer where he is calling from. He tried to change the subject. She persisted and he ended the phone call. Not proof positive, but this does seem curious.

I found one article about out-of-state fund-raising telemarketers in The National Educator, a fringe publication based in Southern California. The article identifies Gordon & Schwenkmeyer, a fund-raising and telemarketing firm specializing in support of Democrat candidates and issues, as the source of phone calls to Arizonans regarding Governor Mecham.

I tried contact the author of this article, Erik Allen, but I was not successful. Although in a fringe publication and published nowhere else, this article has the ring of truth about it.

Mike Gordon, the owner of the telemarketing firm, later denied ever being involved in soliciting money from Arizonans to finance the recall of Governor Mecham.

I tried to get reporters to investigate this telemarketing campaign. The big questions, it would seem, were: Who is paying for the anti-Mecham telemarketing campaign?  How much money is being spent against Mecham? Are reports of contributions and expenses being made to the Arizona Secretary of State? No reporter followed my suggestion.

The National Educator
March 1988

Between November, 1986, and March, 1987, I, Erik Allen, was employed by Gordon and Schwenkmeyer, Inc., in Culver City, California, to put the “hit” on Arizonans for cash contributions to underwrite a massive multi-million dollar hate campaign that would be launched to destroy the reputation of Governor Evan Mecham.

I was part of the “hit squad” — the hate squad, for want of a better, description — that flooded Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale, Tucson, Tempe, and virtually every area of the state with agitating phone calls intended to incite Arizonans, to “get the Governor” at all costs. It was a rabid, ruthless, and relentless attack targeted towards impeachment.

It was deception by design. We were hired to lie. We financed the fight against Mecham from California. It was a fraudulent fundraiser from the beginning because we were told, not to tell the donors who we were or where we were calling from. We never identified ourselves as Gordon and Schwenkmeyer. We led them to believe that we were volunteers calling from Arizona, i.e., dedicated Democratic volunteers. They gave us a script, and we had to follow it; in fact, I was the one assigned to type it up.

It was a boiler room operation — a real sweat shop — and Govemor Mecham was the intended victim. The dollars we raised in the phone bank were for his destruction — revenues for a recall. We were the “hit squad” — hired hands and voices that the Party couldn’t get to volunteer for the job in Arizona because Mecham was too popular, liked, and loved.

We worked closely with Senator Alan Cranston, Mayor Tom Bradley, Tom Hayden (Jane Fonda’s husband), and others from the radical left to pay off debts that had incurred in their campaigns. We put the squeeze on little old ladies, retirees, and factory workers. We tapped their accounts to bring in the bucks. We fleeced them. We peddled fright, even implying that the Governor had a secret plan to take away their police protection.

I felt uncomfortable about what I was doing, knowing that the dollars were being used to ruin the reputation of one of the few obviously independent politicians. So I asked my supervisor to leave me out of this particular political project, which I considered prostitution. They went along temporarily but later, told me I had to do it or be fired. They were falling short of the targeted quota, they explained, and needed to put me back on that assignment to help their sagging stats. Soon I realized why. Many of the Democrats simply had no reason to be mad at Mecham and a number of them even said they thought Mecham was doing a good job. Phones were heavily monitored, and everyone’s stats were reviewed halfway through the shift. Those with low stats, or poor production, were sent home hours before the end of the shift.

To most of the mob’s mouthpieces, it didn’t matter. They were “only out to pick up a paycheck. The man who sat behind me, however, who normally brought in big bucks for this firm, would hold up his stat sheet with no pledges, complaining that “Arizona Democrats like Mecham.” Nonetheless, I guesstimate that our solicitors sucked up nearly a half-million dollars out of the pockets of the poor. It was a hate campaign. They used the cash to cripple the Governor’s reputation and kick off his recall. And, coincidentally, this was happening at the same time that the gay and lesbian task force was setting up their recall in the first months of 1987.