(AP) Corporation Commissioner Jim Irvin resigned Tuesday, avoiding impeachment proceedings launched in the wake of a jury verdict that he tried to influence a corporate bidding war.
An investigator hired by the state House, former U.S. Attorney A. Melvin McDonald Jr., is expected to submit a report on his investigation and recommendations next week.
The House had launched the impeachment investigation against Irvin in June after Judiciary Committee Chairman Steve Tully concluded that "sufficiently serious" grounds existed to warrant the investigation.
Tully cited a jury's $60.4 million award against Irvin in a lawsuit filed by a company that had accused Irvin and associate Jack Rose of secretly trying to influence the acquisition of a natural-gas company regulated by the commission. The state paid more than $4 million in legal fees to defend Irvin and Rose in the case.
Irvin, one of five commissioners, was first elected to the utility regulating panel in 1996. He was re-elected to a four-year term that runs through 2006. Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano will appoint a replacement who must be a Republican, Irvin's party.