The latest update on the travails of Arizona Gov. Evan Mecham (R): Mecham has ordered the Arizona attorney general to remove himself from the investigation into a $350,000 loan to Mecham's 1986 gubernatorial campaign because he has a conflict of interest. The attorney general refused.
In a letter to Attorney General Bob Corbin, the governor said Corbin cannot represent the chief executive as attorney general and conduct a criminal investigation at the same time. "This is a clear conflict of interest," Mecham wrote. "Because of the existing statutory attorney-client relationship between the attorney general and the governor, 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 said he will not remove himself from the investigation because the allegations that Mecham did not report the campaign loan from a developer are not related to Mecham's official duties.
Mecham, the target of a recall campaign, has been ordered to appear before a state grand jury Tuesday.
The governor also directed the attorney general to authorize money so he can hire an outside attorney -- something Corbin is not about to do. "While you certainly have the right to be represented by counsel with regard to a criminal investigation," Corbin said, "in my view you do not have the right to charge the taxpayers for this representation."
Meanwhile, the Arizona House of Representatives has hired an attorney to determine whether it should begin impeachment proceedings against the governor.