DRAFT: An Open Letter From Governor Mecham to the People of Arizona

Governor Mecham often wrote on his small electric portable typewriter. He and I had been talking for days about some sort of public apology for his part in creating political chaos in Arizona. He absolutely rejected the word “apology”, but he was agreeable to making a public statement admitting errors in judgment. One morning, he handed this draft to me — written the night before.

I don’t have a copy of the final version. I don’t specifically recall whether this was issued as a letter or whether it was used in speeches. But, this letter definitely signaled a change in direction and attitude by Mecham.

– Ken Smith


An Open Letter From Governor Mecham to the People of Arizona

November 29, I987

During the last few days I’ve had an opportunity to reflect on the events of the past eleven months. First I want to apologize to the people of Arizona for any of my actions which placed them or our state in an awkward position. gh all of my actions have been well intentioned, I now realize that m have caused concern.

As you know, the foundations of the efforts to recall me were in place at it least two weeks prior to my inauguration. I felt that such prejudgement is unfair. I am nonetheless willing to accept my share of the blame for that occurrence.

1. First and foremost, if I had it to do over again, I would have disposed of the illegal Martin Luther King holiday last January by immediately declaring a legal Sunday holiday commemorating Dr. King instead of canceling the illegal holiday in January and declaring the legal one in May. Under the law this was the maximum I could do and I should have done it immediately.

Click to enlarge. Page 1 of 2 pages.

Click to enlarge. Page 1 of 2 pages.

As many of you realize, Attorney General Bob Corbin recently admitted that prior to the election in November, 1986, he had informed all three of the gubernatorial candidates that they must rescind the illegally declared holiday or face personal liability for one day’s wages for all state employees. It is clear that I had no choice in January other than to rescind the illegal holiday; but I now realize that if I had immediately declared the legal one rather than waiting until May it might have avoided the entire recall process.

2. Secondly, I recognize that I allowed my strong feelings about what I consider to be an “unacceptable lifestyle” of homosexuals to cause me to make statements which might appear to violate their civil rights. I apologize to them for that impression and hereby emphatically state that I will uphold their right to hold office in state government as long as our statutes grant that right.

3. Thirdly, I acknowledge that in our enthusiasm to implement needed corrections in state government, we failed to adequately investigate some of the people whom we appointed. You can sure sure that a system is now operative which guarantees that current and future nominees will be thoroughly and adequately screened before future appointments are made.

4. Lastly, I now realize that our campaign was not staffed with an attorney and a certified public accountant who were sufficiently knowledgeable concerning current campaign reporting laws. That deficiency has been corrected and all future campaign reports will not only report the total receipts, as the prior ones did, but also an itemization of their sources. Corrections to my prior filings have been submitted.

I take total and complete responsibility for the four errors mentioned above. I hope the people fo our great state will balance these errors against the good things which I have done, accept my apologies and allow me to continue serving you.

Humbly Submitted,

Evan Mecham