Mecham faces grand jury probe

October 22, 1987

Associated Press

PHOENIX, Ariz. (AP) — The state attorney general said Thursday that a grand jury had begun investigating Gov. Evan Mecham’s failure to disclose a $350,000 campaign loan in apparent violation of state law.

Attorney General Bob Corbin would not give details on his probe, but he confirmed that it included other matters besides the loan.

“It’s wider. I won’t go beyond that,” Corbin said. “It isn’t just the loan and financial stuff.” The attorney general said the other matters “may or may not” involve Mecham himself.

Mecham, who drew national attention for rescinding a state holiday honoring the Rev. Martin Luther King, has been the target of a recall campaign begun even before he took office in January.

Corbin’s office issued a raft of subpoenas Wednesday and Thursday to Mecham, some of his top aides and people who signed promissory notes to back the $350,000 loan which was not reported to the Secretary of State, as required by law.

All were ordered to appear before the state grand jury on Nov. 3 and to bring relevant documents.

Questioned by a reporter, Mecham’s press secretary, Ken Smith, said that no favors were granted to the man who granted the loan, developer Barry Wolfson, or anyone else connected with the loan.

The governor’s lawyer, Murray Miller, said he believed Corbin had a conflict of interest and should not be conducting the investigation since Corbin had given Mecham advice on financial reporting. In addition, he said, the attorney general had not ruled out running for governor himself.

“It smacks of unfairness for him to be investigating the man whose office he may be seeking in the future,” Miller said. “We think the governor has committed no wrong.”

“No, we don’t have a conflict,” retorted Corbin, who like Mecham is a Republican. “I have no intention of running for governor and people just asked me to keep an open mind.”

Disclosure of the loan Wednesday caused a new storm of criticism of Mecham, and GOP House Speaker Joe Lane revealed that his office had begun studying the impeachment law and was awaiting the outcome of Corbin’s investigation.