HIGH CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS by Ronald J. Watkins

HIGH CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Watkins' first book describes in riveting detail', the most traumatic set of events in Arizona political history: the impeachment--for allegedly concealing an illegal campaign contribution--and subsequent criminal trial of Governor Even Mecham. While many non-Arizonans will most likely remember Mecham for his unilateral rescission of the state's Martin Luther King holiday, Watkins demonstrates that this act alone did not prompt Mecham's removal from office. Rather, his impeachment resulted from the rampant corruption that pervaded his administration. The author cites numerous original sources (interviews with legislators, patrol officers, recall petition-drive leaders, etc.) to bolster his depiction of Mecham as a paranoid, vindictive megalomaniac whose John Birch-like politics proved unpalatable even to Arizona's right-wing Republicans. In fact, it was the state's Republican legislators who eventually decided to excise Mecham, lest his embarrassing antics permanently damage their party's fortunes. According to Watkins, only Arizona's large and prosperous Mormon community remained loyal to Mecham to the bitter end. The author assigns a certain sinister import to that fact, implying that Mecham's regime signified a gaping breach in the constitutional wall that separates church and state. (The breach may widen: Mecham, as Watkins reports, has already launched his 1990 campaign for Arizona governor.) Despite occasional stylistic lapses (e.g., into near stream-of-consciousness writing)--an engrossing work of contemporary history.

Pub Date: May 10th, 1990
Publisher: Morrow