Arizona Governor Says She’ll Amend Disclosure Forms
PHOENIX, Ariz. (AP) _ Gov. Rose Mofford, who gained office after former Gov. Evan Mecham was accused of misdeeds that included failure to disclose a campaign loan, has acknowledged that she did not report some land, loans and partnerships of her own.
″I still question whether the law requires that these items be disclosed,″ said Mrs. Mofford, who as secretary of state for 10 years was charged with accepting state officials’ financial disclosure statements.
″But I wish to avoid even the appearance of impropriety,″ she said, promising to file amended statements. ″Arizona has been through enough without additional doubts and nitpicking.″
Mrs. Mofford, a Democrat, was elevated to the governor’s office from secretary of state April 4 after the Senate convicted Mecham, a Republican, on two impeachment counts. The Senate did not vote on a charge that he failed to disclose a $350,000 campaign loan, an issue on which he is to stand trial May 19.
Attorney General Bob Corbin has said he believes such items as land, loans and partnerships are reportable, and an aide said Mrs. Mofford’s filings would be reviewed by his office.
Mecham said that if Mrs. Mofford is allowed to get off the hook by amending her statements, he should be treated the same way.
Mecham laughed Monday and said ″I love it″ when he heard Mrs. Mofford’s statement about ″doubts and nitpickings.″
Lawmakers said they would prefer to leave matters in the attorney general’s hands for now, but some left open the possibility of another legislative investigation like the one that led to Mecham’s impeachment.
″We’ll just have to wait until the A.G. says,″ House Speaker Joe Lane, who initiated the Mecham investigation in the House, said Monday. ″I just hope she gets everything fixed up.″
The existence of the land holdings, loans and partnerships was discovered by The Associated Press through interviews and records in the Maricopa County Recorder’s office, the state Corporation Commission and the secretary of state’s partnerships office.
Mrs. Mofford, who divorced her husband T.R. Mofford in 1967 but remained on good terms with him until his death in 1982, said she undertook most of the ventures on behalf of him or his estate and therefore felt no need to report them. Others were of such a minor nature that she felt they did not need to be reported either, she said.
″I’m not trying to hide anything. Everything’s on my income taxes,″ she said, adding that the ventures on her former husband’s behalf did not result in any financial profit to herself.
Mrs. Mofford said she would ask Corbin to determine if the items should have been included on her disclosure forms ″so that his advice can be available to her and to other public officials faced with questions,″ her office said Monday in a written statement.
Corbin was out of town Tuesday, but chief assistant Attorney General Steve Twist had said Monday that Corbin’s office planned to review records of the transactions.
″Under the circumstances now, it would not be appropriate or us to give any personal advice to the governor,″ Twist added.
State law requires officeholders to list any source of compensation totaling more than $1,000 in a single year and any title to or beneficial interest in Arizona real estate other than the officeholder’s primary residence or primarily recreational property.
It also requires disclosure of any business, partnership or joint venture in which the officeholder is involved, and debt of more than $1,000 owed by or to the officeholder and any gift above $500.
It is a misdemeanor to file an incomplete or false financial disclosure statement and a felony to swear intentionally to a false statement.
The statements are filed with the secretary of state’s office.
Two instances Mrs. Mofford has not listed in any of her yearly reports involved land acquisition in 1978. In one, the Moffords and Robert Foudy bought a one-third interest each in land from Beryl Merritt. The land was sold about 18 months later, and the Moffords and Foudy held a $25,000 note.
T.R. Mofford and Foudy had died by the time the buyers fell behind in payments, and in 1986 Mrs. Mofford and Foudy’s son, Michael, filed suit. An out-of-court settlement paid them more than $21,000 in a lump sum, Michael Foudy said in an interview.
In the other 1978 transaction, the Moffords and Foudy acquired individual interests in land from Pablo and Guadalupe Aguilar. Mofford turned his share over to Mrs. Mofford and Foudy turned his share over to his son.
Records also indicate that none of Mrs. Mofford’s disclosure statements reflect her 26-plus percent participation with Michael Foudy and others in a $23,000 loan in 1983, her 50 percent participation with him in a $20,000 loan in 1983 and her 26-plus percent paticipation with him and others in a $45,000 loan in 1984.
Also unreported was Mrs. Mofford’s participation as a limited partner in Tempe-Motorola Properties and West Broadway Properties.
In addition, the size of other land and partnership holdings is under- reported, and there are apparent discrepancies in acquisition dates.