PHOENIX, JAN. 16 -- Four of the five Republican members of Arizona's congressional delegation called today for Gov. Evan Mecham (R) to resign, saying that the legal and political turmoil surrounding him have virtually paralyzed the state.
"The governor's legal problems, coupled with the possibility of impeachment, make it virtually impossible for him to carry out his duties," Sen. John S. McCain and Reps. Jim Kolbe, Jon L. Kyl and John J. Rhodes III said in a statement at a news conference. "That is why we believe that resignation would be the best thing -- for Gov. Mecham and for the state."
Earlier today, the governor rejected suggestions that he resign and scoffed at an Arizona House investigator's allegation that he broke the law and sought to cover up an illegal campaign loan.
"I don't think anyone got killed" by what special counsel William French called the "smoking gun" in his report to House members Friday, Mecham told members of the Maricopa County Republican Committee.
French told House members on Friday that Mecham intentionally and illegally concealed a $350,000 campaign loan and that he improperly borrowed $80,000 in state funds from the governor's protocol fund.
The only other Republican member of the Arizona delegation, Rep. Bob Stump, issued a statement saying it would be presumptuous of him to ask Mecham to resign. Stump has been a strong Mecham supporter.
Arizona's two Democrats in Congress, Rep. Morris K. Udall and Sen. Dennis DeConcini, have previously said Mecham should quit.
Mecham's lawyer, Murray Miller, defended the governor at a news conference tonight, contending that if the governor and his campaign staff had wanted to conceal the $350,000 loan, they could have hidden it in out-of-state bank accounts and used fake receipts.
After a rambling statement, Miller answered one question, then walked out of the room when reporters attempted to ask more.