Demos dub Mecham allegations ‘pathetic’

Mohave Daily Miner
August 20, 1987

By Lori K. Weinraub
United Press International

PHOENIX — The Mecham administration’s proof that Democratic Party leaders lied about their role in the movement to oust the governor — a would-be gubernatorial candidate who said a party telephone solicitor advised her of the recall — is “pathetic,” the party’s chairman said.

“I don’t think it demonstrates anything at all,” Sam Goddard said Wednesday after the governor’s office presented its evidence at a news conference. “The governor is absolutely desperate to try to stop being the issue. It’s pathetic.”

Edith Richardson, an advisor to Republic Gov. Evan Mecham, said the governor’s office has received more than 100 calls from people who were contacted by the Los Angeles telemarketing firm of Gordon and Schwenkmeyer and believed the company was soliciting support for the recall movement.

“It is clear from the number of calls we’ve had that the purpose of this telephone campaign was to support the recall,” said Richardson, who spoke to reporters because Mecham is in Taiwan.

“We believe on this floor that if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it’s a duck.”

Said Goddard, “Now I’m absolutely sure why the governor went to China.”

Mecham announced on a radio show last week he had proof the Democratic Party was behind the recall movement and said Goddard lied when he said the party would remain neutral.

Mike Gordon, owner of Gordon and Schwenkmeyer, which was hired by the Democratic Party in 1985 to raise funds, said his telephone solicitors “never ever” sough money for the recall movement.

Jo Griffith, a lifelong Democrat from Phoenix who said she wants to run for governor if there is a recall election, conceded she was not asked for money, nor was she asked to support the recall.

Griffith, 59, who has been a member of the party for 38 years, said she received three or four phone calls during the spring from callers who said they were contacting all registered Democrats in Arizona to advise them of the recall.

Griffith, who said she voted for Mecham in the general election, said she hung up on all the calls until the last one, when she learned that the caller did not live in Arizona and that his firm had been hired to contact Democrats to advise them of the effort to oust the governor.

Richardson also distributed testimony from a Tucson Democrat, thelma Hoskinson, who Richardson said told a Mecham staff she agreed to contribute $7 to the recall after a telephone solicitation and received an envelope from the Democratic Party to mail in her contribution.

Hoskinson, who did not attend the news conference, said in a telephone interview she stood by her statement, but said, “I didn’t know it was going to be blow up like this.”

Richardson said people who called the governor’s office felt they had been deceived.

“They felt deceit, they felt duped, they felt lied to,” she said.

Gordon said the company changed its telephone script two months ago to emphasize that the Democratic Party was not involved in the recall.

Goddard said the script was changed after the governor accused the Democrats of supporting the movement to make it “crystal clear” the Democrats were neutral.

Democrats who received calls are told that Mecham “has caused Arizona to become a national “embarrassment: and that more Democrats must be elected to the state Legislature in 1988 to stop Mecham “before he causes greater harm,” Gordon said.

But Gordon said would-be contributors specifically are told the party is not involved in the campaign, and he said callers are carefully monitored to make sure they do not deviate from the script.

The grey-haired Griffith accused the party’s executive director, Glenn Davis, of trying to ruin her credibility.

“Davis says I misunderstood what the hell I heard,” she said. “Never in all my years has the party questioned my ability to comprehend. Now that I make public this information that the Democratic Party out and out lied about their involvement with the recall, my credibility is being challenged? Com on, whose credibility is being challenged?”