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.
Impeachment/ Recall Movement
Record of proceedings of the Court of Impeachment : in the trial of the Honorable Evan Mecham, Governor, State of Arizona / Arizona State Senate, sitting as a Court of Impeachment.
Articles of Impeachment passed February 8, 1988
Mecham found guilty of
High Crimes and Malfeasance by the Arizona State Senate
April 6, 1988
Excerpt from book High Crimes and Misdemeanors
Power of Impeachment by the Arizona State Legislature
Mecham recall collection, 1986-1988 [manuscript]
MS FM MSS 32
Back at the barb-b-que : an expanded cartoon collection / by Benson.
Come back America / Evan Mecham.
High crimes and misdemeanors : the term and trials of former Governor Evan Mecham / Ronald J. Watkin
Mecham, Arizona's fighting governor : a constitutional conflict, "freedom of the press" or political assassination / by Sammy S. Jenkins Sr.
: silence cannot be misquoted / Ronald J. Bellus.
January 25-31 1984
Today the car lot tomorrow the world: biographical sketches of two prominent car dealers and their political aspirations with the Republican Party.
Evan Mecham: They can say what they want I am what I am. Interview conducted in November, 1986 while Mecham was governor-elect.
Tourism Industry feels fallout form King Holiday Controversy: By canceling Martin Luther King Day, Governor Mecham rocked the tourism industry. With Jesse Jackson calling for a boycott, officials wondered who also wasn't coming for dinner.
June 3-9 1987
Must this show go on? Assessment of the forthcoming attempt to recall the governor.
Outsider's view: has Mecham befuddled the sometimes funny, rarely accurate image of Arizona? Brief interviews with out-of-staters show mixed responses and some total ignorance about Mecham and the recall effort
December 30 1987-Jan 5 1988
The family of Mecham/The Henchman of Mecham.: Several dozen quotes form Mecham's speeches private conversations, etc. grouped by subject matter. Also, the "qualifications" of Mecham's appointees, with some of their more memorable quotes.
A thorough review of the impeachment process, analyzing events leading to the process, the rules of procedure, Mecham's futile attempts to get the courts to intervene, etc.
Arizona Legislators have well-founded fears that no matter which way they voted on the Mecham recall issue their decisions will impact adversely on their re-election potential. Chart shows how they voted.
City Magazine March 1988
There must be fifty ways to leave your governor: a chronology of the Mecham governorship, together with an evocation of the mood of the Capitol the week after Evan and Williard Mecham were indicted on six counts.
Phoenix New Times
May 23, 1990
Mecham Goes not so Gently into that Good Night
Phoenix New Times September 05, 1990,
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