PHOENIX, FEB. 8 -- Acting Gov. Rose Mofford (D) said today she is confident that she can be "a healing governor" as she takes over the duties and authority from Evan Mecham (R), who was impeached Friday by the state House and will move out of his office this week.
Mofford said at a news conference she will extend "every courtesy" to the Republican governor and promised not to do a "hatchet job" on state agency officials, but did ask one key aide to step aside.
Today the House, which voted to impeach Mecham Friday, voted 42 to 18 to approve 23 specific charges against him.
The Senate is expected to organize as an impeachment court Thursday for a trial scheduled Feb. 22.
Although the state constitution specifies that the secretary of state becomes acting governor when the governor is impeached, Mofford had declined over the weekend to take the title until she received official notification of the House impeachment vote, which she received this morning.
"I'd like to be a healing governor, forceful governor and one that will act," Mofford said today.
Mofford met with four former governors -- Sam Goddard (D), Raul Castro (D), Jack Williams (R) and Paul Fannin (R) -- and said they had advised her to take an active role in running the state.
Later she had a "cordial" meeting with Mecham during which he asked that several of his aides be allowed to remain, Mofford spokesman Athia Hardt said.
Mofford put on paid leave Department of Administration Director Max Hawkins and State Personnel Director Alberto Gutier said he was told he would be given a new assignment in a few days.
Mecham also faces a May 17 recall election and a criminal trial on charges of concealing a $350,000 campaign loan. The criminal trial was scheduled for March but has been postponed until April.
The impeachment charges detail the three main allegations against Mecham: that he concealed the campaign loan, misused $80,000 from the governor's protocol fund by lending it to his car dealership, and tried to thwart an investigation of an alleged death threat by a state official.
The articles allege violations of law, including obstruction of justice in connection with the alleged death threat, making a false sworn statement by failing to report the campaign loan, and violating his oath of office in connection with the $80,000 loan to Mecham Pontiac.