New fund-raising letter surfaces, immediately disavowed

October 15, 1987

Associated Press

PHOENIX, Ariz. (AP) — Gov. Evan Mecham on Wednesday disavowed a letter that called Jesse Jackson a “sanctimonious bigot,” and was purportedly sent by retired Army Gen. John K. Singlaub in an effort to raise funds for the embattled governor.

Singlaub, head of the United States Council for World Freedom and a supporter of the Nicaraguan Contras, did not approve the letter and the signature was not his, said Joyce Downey, a Singlaub spokeswoman.

The letter purported to be a fund-raiser for the Committee Against the Recall of Ev, a group that opposes the Mecham recall movement. CARE leaders did not return phone calls Wednesday seeking comment.

Mecham’s press secretary, Ken Smith, said the letter was inflammatory and that the governor “found it absolutely appalling.” Smith said Mecham did not see the letter, but that parts of it were read to him.

The letter sought help from “every true conservative in America” and added, “Governor Mecham is being attacked in a recall move by the likes of Jesse Jackson, militant homosexuals, radical feminists and lesbians and the Arizona Communist Party.”

It called Jackson, a Democratic presidential candidate, “one of our nation’s monumental frauds” and a “sanctimonious bigot.”

Smith said he did not know if CARE was associated with the letter.

Ms. Downey said a member of CARE asked her about a week ago if Singlaub would be willing to sign a letter.

“It is absolutely not General Singlaub’s signature” on the letter, she said, adding that she first saw the letter Wednesday afternoon when it was delivered by a messenger.

On Sept. 29, Mecham became embroiled in a political firestorm when it was disclosed that the Mecham Finance Committee had sent a fund-raising letter that blamed the recall movement on “militant liberals and the homosexual lobby.”

The governor’s office gave several versions of how the letter was signed – whether by Mecham’s own hand or by a signature machine, and with or without his approval – and the governor blew up at a reporter who questioned which story was true.

The incident was the last straw for some moderate Republicans, who called on Mecham to resign. Former Sen. Barry Goldwater said last week that Mecham should quit and turn the job over to Democratic Secretary of State Rose Mofford.