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Arizona Attorney General Refuses to Halt His Investigation

October 29, 1987

PHOENIX, Ariz. (AP) _ Gov. Evan Mecham’s attorney says he’ll go to court in an effort to block the state attorney general’s criminal investigation of the governor.

Mecham on Wednesday demanded that Attorney General Bob Corbin halt the probe on grounds the attorney general was involved in a conflict of interest. But Corbin refused, and Mecham attorney Murray Miller said he will take the issue to court.

The governor, in a letter to Corbin, called the investigation ″a clear conflict of interest; you cannot both represent and conduct a criminal investigation of the Governor at the same time.″

Mecham’s letter said, ″I must insist, in the interest of preserving the integrity of both offices ... that you forthwith recuse the office of the Attorney General from conducting further investigation, and transfer this matter to an independent and impartial agency.″

Corbin’s office has been investigating whether Mecham should be charged in connection with failing to report a $350,000 campaign loan. A state grand jury has subpoenaed Mecham and a number of his top aides and associates to testify starting Tuesday on that and other matters, including whether the loan was tied to two gubernatorial appointments.

Last week, Miller said he considered Corbin to be in a conflict of interest because he had advised the governor on campaign finance law and because the attorney general had not ruled out the possibility of running for governor.

Corbin replied to Mecham’s letter within hours, saying: ″You are correct that you are currently a person under investigation by the state grand jury. The subject of the investigation involves matters unrelated to the proper discharge of your official duties and, therefore, I respectfully reject your demand that the Office of the Attorney General recuse itself in this matter.″

Corbin also refused to authorize the governor to pay Miller with taxpayers’ funds.

The state Senate’s minority leader, Democrat Alan Stephens, said the Republican governor was ″grasping at straws″ in an effort to stop the investigation.

″Clearly the attorney general is the one to look into allegations and that is what he’s doing,″ said Senate Majority Leader Bob Usdane.

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