PHOENIX, JAN. 30 -- Declaring "I have broken no laws," Gov. Evan Mecham (R) said he will not resign but instead will run in a recall election to keep his job.
In a letter unsealed tonight by the secretary of state, Mecham said: "I was legally elected by the people of Arizona to the office of governor, and I intend to fulfill my responsibility as governor of the state until those same people vote to remove me from office."
The governor delivered the letter to Secretary of State Rose Mofford on Friday evening, but it was marked that it not be opened until 6 p.m. today. Mofford said she will schedule a recall election for May 17.
"I have broken no laws," Mecham said in the letter. "I have worked diligently to fulfill my promises to the voters."
Meanwhile, the governor accused a state police lieutenant of perjuring himself in testimony before the state House select committee that is considering whether to impeach Mecham. Mecham plans to testify before the panel on Monday.
Mecham also faces a March 9 criminal trial on charges of fraud, perjury and filing false documents for allegedly concealing a $350,000 campaign loan.
The governor had until today to decide whether to resign or run in a recall vote. Mofford, a Democrat, would replace Mecham if he resigned or were removed from office.
In a speech to the state Republican Convention this morning, Mecham said, "I don't for a minute think that the people of this state are going to turn out a record of accomplishment for a bunch of vague promises of people who have no record of accomplishment in the field they're talking about.
"It's ours to win, and it's ours to lose," Mecham said.
"I'll have my day in court Monday" before the House committee, the governor said. "Monday I'll cover the facts. I hope you'll be tuned in so that you can get my side of the story.
"I think you'll be pleased with it, and I think you'll understand a lot of the things you don't today," he said.
In the recall election, Mecham will take on all comers, who have to gather 3,336 petition signatures to qualify for the ballot. Democrat Carolyn Warner, who lost to Mecham in a three-way race in November 1986, has announced plans to run.
Former congressman John J. Rhodes (R), once the U.S. House minority leader, has formed an exploratory committee.
In an interview, Mecham charged that Department of Public Safety Lt. Beau Johnson lied when he testified before the House committee that Johnson had fully informed the governor of an alleged death threat against a former state official.
Public Safety Director Ralph Milstead has claimed that Mecham tried to thwart the attorney general's investigation of an alleged death threat by Mecham administration official Lee Watkins, who has since resigned, against former top Mecham aide Donna Carlson. Carlson was a grand jury witness in connection with the $350,000 loan.
Mecham said he knew there was a controversy but had asked another state official to handle it and did not realize how seriously the Department of Public Safety was taking it.
Johnson, who served as Mecham's chief bodyguard, testified a week ago that he told Mecham of the death threat and explained that it involved a potential felony. He said the governor was "incorrect" in claiming in an interview that he did not know about the alleged threat.
However, Mecham said today, "Beau Johnson perjured himself. The words 'death threat' or 'felony' was never uttered in my presence."
Public Safety Sgt. Allan Schmidt said Johnson would not be available for comment, adding, "Lt. Johnson's testimony was given under oath, and no more comment is neccessary."