Governor Mecham’s letter to Speaker Joe Lane

This is a letter I wrote for Governor Mecham to be hand-delivered to House Speaker Joe Lane. As with all such letters, it followed discussions with Mecham and other senior staff. I also talked with Murray Miller, the governor’s personal attorney. I don’t have a copy of the version that was sent to Lane, but I believe this draft was was used without any changes. Please see the Arizona Republic’s reporting of this letter, “Mecham berates House Speaker over subpoena”.

– Ken Smith

December 21, 1987

Dear Mr. Speaker:

In this letter, I will protest your invasion of my privacy, question your expenditures of taxpayers’ money, tell you the source of funds to pay off the Wolfson loan, suggest to you that you bring your House colleagues into your confidence, and call for a public hearing in which I would answer any and all of your questions under oath. For the good of Arizona, I ask that you give this letter your immediate and full attention.

Although I have not been charged with any violation of the law, the supposedly secret proceedings of a state grand jury and the current impeachment investigation ordered by you, as the Speaker of the House of Representatives, have been teamed with a parade of news media reports of alleged crimes for the past three months. I have been forced to spend a small fortune on legal fees for my personal defense, while the Attorney General and you, as the Speaker of the House, have spent large sums of taxpayers’ money in an attempt to indict or impeach me on some charge yet to revealed.

The pattern continues. Last Friday afternoon, I learned from a television reporter that William French, the attorney hired by you to conduct an impeachment investigation against me, had subpoenaed my bank’s records of my personal checking account. This is a new low in politics and a new high in wasting taxpayers’ money.

I could have guessed that this subpoena would be issued under your authority because I have been asked by reporters for weeks now to identify the source of the money with which I repaid the the balance loan to Mr. Wolfson. I did not tell the reporters the source because I do not consider them a legitimate investigative arm of government. Further, the law does not require me to report the source of this money until next April.

Mr. French issued the subpoena and had copies delivered to the news media. But, he did not have the courtesy, decency or common sense to make a copy of the subpoena available to me or my attorney. The copy of the subpoena which we obtained late Friday was given to us by a reporter.

Now, Joe, if you really wanted to know how I paid off the loan, all you had to do was ask. A phone call or letter from you to me would not have the bombastic headline appeal of a special counsel’s subpoena, but it would be much cheaper for the taxpayers. How much is all this going to cost?

If I knew the nature of your inquiry, I would be more than happy to furnish everything you might want. Because I have done nothing wrong, it is to my advantage to have all matters brought into the open as soon as possible.  Instead of openness, we have Mr. French sneaking around with a handful of subpoenas.

I want some sunshine on this investigation so that we may dry up these moldy allegations of illegal acts committed by me or my campaign staff. You apparently want a few more headlines to justify the fees being paid to Mr. French and his staff.

I suggest you allow all members of the House to have a say on the propriety of this investigation by insisting that Mr. French furnish a total report of all he has done to date and to reveal what his objectives are in this investigation. If he is not able to convince most of the members of the House that he has good grounds to continue, then this special investigation should be immediately halted.

Although what you are seeking constitutes an incredible invasion of privacy, I have done nothing illegal and I have nothing to hide. Two acquaintances of mine, Earl Johnson and Eddie Johnson, father and son, each made personal loans to me of $75,000. I then loaned the funds to the Mecham Finance Committee to pay off the Wolfson loan. The Johnsons did not ask me to keep the loans confidential. I chose not to mention their names to the reporters who have asked about this issue in the past couple of weeks because I did not want their privacy invaded on an otherwise slow news day.

In summary, I call on you to bring this divisive investigation to a head. I call on you to take your fellow House members into your circle of confidence and let them know what you are doing and what you hope to accomplish.

If you have sufficient support to continue, I insist on appearing to give testimony under oath before the appropriate legislative body and answer all questions by any member of the House to resolve this issue as quickly as possible.  Mr. Speaker, if you want to know about my campaign and personal disclosure statements, or whatever else it is that you are investigating, why not simply call me for testimony? You and other members of the House may ask me what I did, when I did it, why I did it, and anything else that should be considered before making a judgment with respect to impeachment.

Most ludicrous of all, Mr. French has subpoenaed video tapes of my appearances on a couple of television shows during which I discussed campaign loans. Why doesn’t he ask me directly? Can Mr. French delegate his investigative responsibilities to television reporters? Is Mr. French going to present a few minutes of video tape in a secret closed door caucus in an attempt to convince a selected few representatives that articles of impeachment should be signed? I hope not.

I am sure the voters of Arizona will want to know how each and every member of the House of Representatives stands on impeachment. I trust the people and I distrust politicians who try to wield their power secretly.

Certainly, as an elected representative of the people, you should be capable of asking the questions and making your own decisions. Let the people of Arizona see and hear the proceedings and let them judge the fairness of the proceedings and the competency of their elected officials, including myself.

I look forward to the spotlight of truth, the glare of public opinion, and the fresh air of an open and public hearing. I am immediately ready to be called to the witness stand and produce all of my records.

I ask all Arizonans to demand that you urgently proceed with an open and public hearing. May I hear from you soon?


Evan Mecham