Mecham disavows letter purportedly on his behalf

October 15, 1987

By LAURIE ASSEO
Associated Press

PHOENIX, Ariz. (AP) — A letter that calls Jesse Jackson a “sanctimonious bigot” and was purportedly written by supporters of Gov. Evan Mecham was quickly repudiated by his office and pronounced a fake by its supposed signer.

The governor’s office disclosed the existence of the letter Wednesday and released quotes from it.

Press secretary Ken Smith said that Mecham had nothing to do with the letter, which bore the purported signature of retired Army Gen. John K. Singlaub. Smith said the governor found the letter “absolutely appalling.”

Singlaub, a backer of the Nicaraguan contras and a figure in the Iran-Contra affair, denied signing the letter and added: “It is contrary to my beliefs, and it reveals itself as a fabrication.”

The letter was purportedly a fund-raiser for the Committee Against the Recall of Ev, a group that surfaced recently to oppose the drive to recall Mecham.

CARE leaders did not return telephone calls Wednesday, and it was not immediately known whether the letter was ever sent, and if so, to whom.

The letter sought help from “every true conservative in America” and said 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 “one of our nation’s monumental frauds” and a “sanctimonious bigot” who was associated with the Rev. Louis Farrakhan, “the firebrand black who despises Jewish people and all white Americans.”

Smith said he did not know if CARE was associated with the letter and told reporters, “My hopes are that you never see it.”

Joyce Downey, Singlaub’s spokeswoman, said a member of CARE asked her about a week ago if Singlaub would be willing to sign a letter. She said he never signed.

“We are trying to find Jesse Jackson so that the governor and General Singlaub can tell him it was a fake,” she said.

Jackson spokesman Frank Watkins said today that Singlaub called the Jackson campaign to say he was not involved in the letter.

“He knows nothing about it,” Watkins said, recounting the conversation. “He understands it’s an attack on Rev. Jackson. He says he’s not part of that and he’s embarrassed about it and if necessary will take legal action.”

On Sept. 29, Mecham came under attack when it was disclosed that the Mecham Finance Committee had sent a fund-raising letter blaming the recall movement on “militant liberals and the homosexual lobby.”

His office gave several versions of how that letter was signed – whether by Mecham himself or a signature machine, and with or without his approval – and the governor berated a reporter who questioned which story was true.

The incident was the last straw for some moderate Republicans, who days later called on Mecham to resign either immediately or if the recall effort collects enough signatures to force a recall election.

Last week, former Sen. Barry Goldwater also said he thought Mecham should quit.

Mecham’s troubles began shortly after he took office in January and rescinded a state holiday for the Rev. Martin Luther King. Jr.