Mecham repays loan; fundraising letter sent

December 5, 1987

By LAURIE ASSEO
Associated Press

PHOENIX, Ariz. (AP) — Gov. Evan Mecham has repaid the $350,000 campaign loan that sparked a grand jury investigation, and his finance committee launched a plea for donations to pay off his debt.

Tempe developer Barry Wolfson came to the state Capitol Friday to show reporters a check for $157,102 from the Mecham for Governor committee that was signed by the governor’s brother and campaign treasurer, Willard Mecham.

“To use a cliche, all’s well that ends well,” Wolfson said. However, he said, “This was my first and last involvement in politics, I can assure you that.”

“It’s, unlike the loan, not a secret that I’m somewhat disillusioned,” Wolfson said. “I approached the governor asking that the establishment in town be swept out of power and that’s what I thought of as being good government … I don’t believe that’s happened.”

The state grand jury spent the past few weeks investigating whether Mecham should be indicted for failing to report the loan until it was disclosed by the media. The governor amended his financial disclosure statements last month, saying he had made an “honest mistake.”

A new fund-raising letter, signed by the governor and mailed by the Mecham Finance Committee, warned: “Those who want to negate last year’s election have been very, very busy. We have done all we can and will do much more if you come to my rescue, get the debts paid off, and get ready to win a recall election if there are enough valid signatures certified.”

The letter urged people to send whatever they could afford and said, “The need is urgent.”

The governor approved and signed the letter, Mecham spokesman Ken Smith said. Smith did not know how many copies were mailed or to whom. At least two Republican lawmakers said they got the letter this week, as did state GOP Chairman Burton Kruglick.

Another fund-raising letter by the Mecham Finance Committee caused major political problems for the governor in late September. That letter, which was pulled back by Mecham because he said he didn’t approve of the language, blamed the recall movement on “militant liberals and the homosexual lobby.”

Smith said he did not know where the money came from to repay the campaign loan. Mecham Finance Committee Chairman Ralph Watkins and fund-raiser Bill Long did not return phone calls seeking comment.