Arizona Attorney General Bob Corbin says he is investigating whether to prosecute Gov. Rose Mofford for omitting land, loan and partnership transactions from sworn financial-disclosure statements.
Corbin is prosecuting Mofford's predecessor, Evan Mecham, over omission of a $350,000 campaign loan from similar financial-disclosure statements, and Mecham's lawyers are sure to object if Mofford is treated any differently.But Corbin also is next in line to become governor should anything happen to Mofford, much as Mofford succeeded Mecham upon his ouster by the Senate Court of Impeachment in April.
"He's in somewhat of a delicate position," Senate Minority Leader Alan Stephens, a Democrat, said Friday after Mofford filed amended financial disclosure statements.
Mofford, a Democrat, called her omissions "an honest mistake" and said she did not intend to hide the transactions reported a week before by The Associated Press.
Mecham, a Republican, used the same language last year when his omission was reported by The Arizona Republic.
Aides said Mofford's share of the unreported transactions would total $67,000 at most.
Knowing failure to file a complete disclosure statement is a misdemeanor under Arizona law. Intentional false swearing is a felony.
"It's kind of the same thing that Mecham had, and we'll wait until the A.G. tells us what he thinks," said House Speaker Joe Lane, a Republican who set impeachment hearings in motion against Mecham. "We're going to
treat her just like we did Gov. Mecham. There's really no difference."
But Stephens said aspects of the Mecham case that show intent to conceal are not present in the Mofford case. He cited the size of the developer's loan to Mecham, a letter in which Mecham promised to keep it confidential and a paper trail that House and Senate prosecutors described as a laundering scheme.
On the other hand, aides acknowledge, Mofford spent 10 years as secretary of state in command of the office where the forms are filed and in charge of preparing the instructions on how to fill out the forms in the first place.
Asked for his reaction to Mofford's action, Corbin said Friday, "I have no comment because the matter is under investigation."
As late as Monday, Mofford had described reports about the undisclosed transactions as "nitpicking." On Friday, however, she filed new forms and turned over her records.
"I now believe that these items should have been disclosed earlier," she said at a news conference cut short by her aides. "I made an honest mistake."
"I'm very sorry," she added. "I want to emphasize that it was never my intent to hide anything from anybody."