Glendale, Arizona , United States
|| May 12, 1924
|Died||February 21, 2008
Mar 29, 2020 11:45pm
Caucasian - Married - Army - Impeached - Removed From Office - The John Birch Society - Latter Day Saints (Mormon) - Straight -
|Info||He was born May 12, 1924 in Duchesne, Utah. Following his graduation from Altamont High School in Duchesne, he received an agricultural scholarship to Utah State University. He attended Utah State from 1942-1943 and then left to become an Army Air Force Pilot during World War II. During his time served in the war he was decorated with the Air Medal and Purple Heart. When the war was over, he returned to Arizona to continue his studies at Arizona State University from 1947-1950 majoring in management and economics. In 1950, just a few units short of a bachelors degree, he opened Mecham Pontiac and Rambler in Ajo, Arizona. In 1954 he relocated to Glendale, Arizona. He then became actively involved in politics having outspoken stances on very conservative issues. He ran for Arizona State Senate in 1960 and was elected to a two year term. He then ran against Carl Hayden for the US Senate seat for Arizona in 1962 and lost to the long time US Senator. His aspirations finally moved to the governor's seat, running five times (1964, 1974, 1982, 1986, and 1989), three before being elected. |
He finally won in 1986, which opened an ominous chapter in Arizona history. Known for his outspoken conservative stance, he would be impeached from office after only a year. He would be known as the governor who canceled Martin Luther King Jr. Day, defended the word "pickaninny" as well as other racist remarks, bizarre paranoid behaviour such as declaring John Kolbe of the Phoenix Gazette a "non-person", and causing such turmoil as to prevent a Super Bowl from coming to town. Losses to the state approached $500 million, including $200 million from the NFL's decision to move the Super Bowl.
A recall petition was begun by those who disagreed with his political stances. The final number of people who signed was over twice what was needed in the time allotted. An election was scheduled by the Secretary of State, but calls for impeachment had already arisen due to illegalities he committed while campaigning for governor and while in office. Mecham was impeached for for allegedly concealing a large campaign contribution ($350,000), misuse of funds for a state loan of $80,000 to his Mecham Pontiac dealership, and obstruction of justice by ordering the head of the state police to refuse cooperation to the attorney general in a criminal investigation. Mecham had also been indicted criminally for allegedly concealing an illegal campaign contribution of $350,000 from controversial attorney Barry Wolfson, then being investigated by the attorney general along with his partner, Hubert V. Gregan, for an alleged arbitrage scam. Under the terms of the agreement Mecham had written Wolfson a letter stating the arrangement would remain confidential." Wolfson had wired the money into a special Mecham campaign bank account created solely for these transactions. That contribution, coming as it did in the final days of the campaign, had made Mecham's victory possible. Mecham was impeached February 9, 1988 just days after his state of the state address. He was found guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors and removed from office April 4, 1988.
Mecham was acquitted in the criminal trial on all counts. He made another attempt to win the Republican nomination for governor of Arizona in 1989, but he could not overcome his reputation or raise enough money for his campaign. Mecham is still a force in Arizona conservative politics and is still able to influence conservative voters despite his impeachment.