Another Arizona Politico Makes His Mark
Jim Irvin, target of impeachment probe, resigns
The Arizona Republic
Sept. 23, 2003
Jim Irvin, the embattled Arizona Corporation Commissioner who faces an impeachment probe, resigned Tuesday afternoon. He is also suing the state to cover for his legal fees in a civil trial in which he was slapped with a $60 million judgment for trying to influence a takeover bid of Southwest Gas.
Irvinís lawyer, Jeff Walsh, said Tuesday afternoon the resignation takes effect immediately. Walsh said Irvin "has found it increasingly difficult to pursue his legal remedies in the courts and, at the same time, defend himself in an impeachment process.Ē
The announcement came as Irvinís attorneys prepared to file a claim against the state to recover legal fees and to shield him from being financially liable for actions while in office.
Irvin had offered to resign last week if House leaders would agree to keep their impeachment investigation findings under wraps.
House impeachment investigators were looking into several accusations that Irvin misused his office, including interfering in a utility takeover bid, faking evidence in a resulting civil trial and libeling a colleague.
Impeachment special investigator Melvin McDonald was expected to deliver his report to Flake soon. McDonald recently spent three days interviewing former Irvin aide Jack Rose.
Rose refused last year to testify under Fifth Amendment protection from self-incrimination during a civil suit against Irvin for interfering in an aborted 1999 takeover of Southwest Gas. The House granted Rose immunity from prosecution.
Irvin spokeswoman Cheryl Walsh last week denied reports that Irvin had recently inquired about immunity from prosecution from the Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley's office should he resign. The County Attorney's Office had previously declined to investigate Irvin, passing the case to the U.S. Attorney's Office, which also declined. The Attorney General's Office also has passed on an Irvin prosecution.
Sources confirmed that an Irvin attorney had called Romley's office and talked hypothetically about immunity.
The House's impeachment investigation has centered on Irvin's role in the 1999 takeover bid of Southwest Gas by Southern Union. Officials say Irvin and Rose worked behind the scenes to scuttle Southern Union's bid in favor of a smaller bid by a company called Oneok. Rose stood to make millions as a consultant if Oneok's bid succeeded.
Southern Union sued, and late last year a federal jury hit Irvin with a $60 million punitive-damages award, one of the largest civil penalties in history.