Booking and apology on the same day

See my comment at the bottom of this page.


Jan. 14, 1988

By Lori K. Weinraub

PHOENIX, Ariz. (UPI) _ Gov. Evan Mecham, charged with fraud and perjury, was fingerpinted and photographed Thursday as part of the indictment process, officials said.

“The governor was processed today. I’d like to add that he was extremely amicable to whatever needed to be done,” said Sgt. Jay Ellison, spokesman for the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department.

Mecham was indicted by a state grand jury last week on six felony counts, charging him and his brother, Willard, with attempting to conceal a $350,000 campaign loan in state-required financial reports.

The first-term Republican governor also is the target of a recall drive as well as the subject of a House investigation to determine whether enough evidence exists to warrant impeachment proceedings.

The Arizona Republic newspaper, in its Friday editions, printed the text of an open letter of apology signed by the governor.

“I apologize to the people of Arizona for any of my actions or mistakes which may have sparked embarrassing publicity for our state,” Mecham wrote. “I have been well-intentioned, but I now know that I may have been the cause of legitimate concerns.”

Among those mistakes was the governor’s rescinding of a paid state holiday honoring Martin Luther King, Jr., Mecham wrote. He said, in retrospect, he would have “immediately” declared a legal Sunday holiday.

Mecham spokesman Ken Smith told the Republic the letter was drafted originally by GOP National Committeeman Jack Londen in December. Smith said he rewrote portions of it and had the governor sign it.

Ellison said Mecham and his brother were processed at the Phoenix offices of Mecham’s attorney, Murray Miller, between 3:30 p.m. and 4 p.m.

Asked whether it was unusual for processing to take place outside the sheriff’s office, Ellison said, “It’s unusual, but it’s not unheard of. It depends on the circumstances.

“Security is a factor … if a person is incapacitated, those kinds of things,” Ellison said. “We did work closely with the governor’s security force. There were no demands one way or the other.”

Before the court date, the person must be processed to “put him into the system,” Ellison said.


Comment:

Jack Londen had drafted the apology some weeks before following a meeting between Mecham and senior Republicans. I took Londen’s draft to Mecham and, after a long debate with him, convinced him to at least meet with Londen to discuss a letter of apology.

Londen had several meetings with Mecham during the day and ultimately convinced him that some sort of letter was necessary. I took Londen’s draft and wrote the letter of apology. Mecham fussed with it for hours, making change after change, then finally agreed to sign it as written.

Londen and I were very pleased with the play the letter got the next morning, despite being positioned next to the article on his booking. By that night, however, Michael Murphy from the Phoenix Gazette phoned Mecham at home and Mecham denied that he had apologized.

As for the booking, I greatly appreciated the Phoenix Police Department for its concern about media hype. The fingerprinting of Evan and Willard at Miller’s office was worked out by the Phoenix police at my request to avoid another round of sensational news.

– Ken Smith