Former Gov. Evan Mecham says a lawsuit seeking to wrest an $80,000 protocol fund from him is "frivolous" and he expects to win a court fight over the money, which was central to his impeachment conviction.

The state of Arizona brought suit against Mecham on Thursday aimed at forcing him to give the money to Gov. Rose Mofford, the Democrat who succeeded Mecham when he was convicted on impeachment charges April 4.Mecham, however, told reporters that he mailed the money back to the original 687 contributors Thursday.

Valley National Bank spokesman Steve Roman said the bank will not pay on the checks until a court decides who is entitled to the money.

Mecham called the lawsuit "one of the biggest travesties of a waste of taxpayers' money on a frivolous lawsuit I've ever seen."

He predicted the court would declare the fund to be private money, thus proving the Senate had no grounds to convict him of misusing $80,000 from the fund by loaning it to his auto dealership.

Attorney General Bob Corbin, who filed the civil suit, said he believes the protocol fund belongs to the state. Corbin unsuccessfully prosecuted Mecham in criminal court in May on charges of concealing a $350,000 campaign loan.