PHOENIX, JAN. 23 -- Arizona Gov. Evan Mecham (R), saying that he is not ashamed to ask, issued a plea today for money to help defend himself against criminal charges, possible impeachment and an almost-certain recall vote.

During his regular call-in radio show on KTAR, the governor said he is the victim of "vague innuendoes" by people who lost power over government when he took office.

"I haven't broken any laws," he repeated and added that, with perjury and fraud charges scheduled for trial in March and with impeachment hearings under way in the state House, he welcomes the opportunity to defend himself.

"Finally, I'm in a position to fight back," Mecham said. "I'm in a position to sort of pull the cover off what's been happening. I now have the power to subpoena witnesses; we have the power to go after information. Now to defend myself, we have powers we didn't have before."

Mecham told listeners, "I'm not ashamed to say this -- we sure need lots of money for this legal defense fund . . . . I'd like to encourage all the people who want to see me get through this to go put a little money in that account . . . . It's the Mecham Legal Defense Fund."

After the show, Mecham told reporters he hoped to raise "a couple of hundred thousand dollars" through the fund. He said he has spent "quite a lot of money" on his defense, but declined to give a figure.

Responding to claims that he cannot effectively govern while defending himself on three fronts, Mecham said his attorneys are doing most of the work and said, "I can govern quite well."

Mecham criticized four GOP members of Arizona's congressional delegation for calling for his resignation. He said the move was led by Sen. John S. McCain III, "who has been working quite hard to try to establish himself in place of the governor as the titular head of the party since the election."

Mecham said he is in trouble because "I came into office and did exactly what I said I would do. That was to open up a circle and take management of state government out of the hands of elitists -- some call it the establishment."

Impeachment hearings, which began before a House Select Committee on Wednesday, were described by Mecham as "prosecution hearings."

"I guess I'll be the only defense witness," he said.