Governor thinks lasers being used for eavesdropping

January 21, 1988

Associated Press

PHOENIX, Ariz. (AP) — Embattled Gov. Evan Mecham shocked some guests at a breakfast this week when he remarked he was concerned that laser beams are being used to eavesdrop on his office and home.

Mecham made the comments Tuesday to six people sitting at his table before he addressed the Phoenix Forum Breakfast Club, the Arizona Republic reported in today’s editions.

Ernest Calderon, a lawyer who was sitting at the table, said he did a double take when the governor spoke of his concern about laser eavesdropping.

“We looked at each other aghast,” said Calderon. “I thought my hearing was failing. I couldn’t believe it.”

Mecham had called in to participate in a Phoenix radio station’s talk show Monday and was explaining why he had been listening to the program, said another man at the table, who asked not to be identified.

“Then he (Mecham) said, ‘Do you want to know why I had the radio on at home?”‘ the man said.

Again quoting Mecham, the man said, “Whenever I’m in my house or my office, I always have a radio on. It keeps the lasers out.”

The man said the governor was deadly serious.

“We said, ‘What lasers?’ and he said, ‘The lasers for eavesdropping. They’re eavesdropping on me. They’re shooting lasers through the windows.”‘

The man told the Republic that Mecham declined to identify who “they” are.

Ken Smith, Mecham’s press secretary, said that there is continuing concern that the governor’s office is the target of some sort of electronic surveillance.

Smith said no evidence of such eavesdropping has been uncovered, but he said the suspected device would be more like a microwave than a laser beam.

“It looks a lot like a dish that the TV stations use,” Smith said, “and they’re not that expensive.”

An Arizona House committee is considering whether Mecham should be impeached for allegedly concealing a $350,000 campaign loan and borrowing $80,000 of what the House special counsel contends is state money. He also faces a likely recall election in May and is to be arraigned Friday on six felony counts of fraud, perjury and filing false documents in connection with his failure to report the $350,000 loan.