Impeachment Vote Solemn Occasion With AM-Mecham, Bjt
Apr. 05, 1988
PHOENIX, Ariz. (AP) _ Gov. Evan Mecham sat solemnly, showing virtually no emotion, as the Senate convicted him of two impeachment counts Monday and removed him from office.
''I think he gave me the impression that he was almost resigned to the fact that he knew it was coming,'' said defense attorney Jerris Leonard, who sat next to the first-term Republican at the defense table.
The governor said little to his attorneys as senators announced their votes - some so softly that they could not be heard from the gallery, said Leonard.
The governor listened as senators denounced him as a liar and accused him of misusing the power he gained when he took office in January 1987.
But minutes later, Mecham smiled broadly as he met reporters in a Senate hallway and left the building to loud cheers from supporters.
''Well, they (senators) don't like my politics so we finished a political trial; it's as simple as that,'' he said. He was not required to attend the Senate vote, and Leonard said earlier Monday he had advised Mecham not to.
The governor's political opponents weren't celebrating as they voted to make Mecham the first U.S. governor impeached and removed from office in neaerly six decades.
''There's no joy in anyone's hearts today,'' said Assistant Minority Leader Lela Alston, a Democrat who voted to convict on both counts. ''I'm heartsick.''
''I think it's a sad day for everyone when we have to vote to impeach our governor,'' said Democratic Sen. Peter Rios, who also voted to convict Mecham of obstructing justice and misusing money from the governor's protocol fund.
Sen. Peter Kay, a Republican, said, ''It's a relief so that we can get back to our business.''
Even those who voted in Mecham's favor did not say positive things about the governor, instead maintaining he did nothing to warrant removal.
Sen. Jan Brewer, a Republican who voted in Mecham's favor, said the governor's actions were ''grossly inadequate, even seriously incompetent - but I don't find it purposely obstruction of justice.''
''Ladies and gentlemen, Governor Mecham has struck out,'' announced Democrat Jesus ''Chuy'' Higuera, who voted against the governor on both counts. ''The citizens of this state will not tolerate this evil insensitivity'' to the Arizona Constitution, he said.
Republican Sen. Tony West addressed his comments to Mecham directly, saying, ''It's obvious now ... that you will no longer be the governor of the state of Arizona.''
''Many people across this state believe in you and believe in you passionately ... and I think you abrogated the trust of people who have so passionately believed in you,'' West said.
West said Mecham's ability to tell the truth was ''in a state of bankruptcy'' and read from a book that psychoanalyzed people who habitually lie.