Allister Adel: Top prosecutors want Maricopa County attorney to resign

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors and the state bar have received a letter demanding that Allister Adel resigns as county attorney – she refutes the letter, saying it mischaracterizes her and that she doesn't plan to resign.

The letter sent on Feb. 14 by chiefs of five criminal divisions in the office said Adel called into question her ability to do her job by rarely being in the office, showing signs of being inebriated during phone calls and not providing leadership.

During a Nov. 30 meeting, the letter said, "we asked you to step up. You have either been unwilling or unable to do so. Therefore, we are now asking you to step down, so that you and MCAO can finally begin the healing process."

In November 2020, when she was elected, Adel underwent emergency surgery election night for a brain bleed after a fall. She was back full-time the following spring but in August went to rehab for alcohol abuse, an eating disorder and other issues. In September, she confirmed she was working remotely from an out-of-state treatment facility.

She later returned to work, but the letter said she is rarely in the office despite saying she would do so.

Adel has rejected all calls for her to resign. "Unfortunately, politics does funny things to people, and I’m not going anywhere. This has not made me waver. The criticism, the calls for me to resign. I’m not resigning," she said.

‘I have no plans to resign’

In a statement released on Feb. 15, Adel held her stance, saying she will take the challenge to refute the calls for her resignation.

"As has been reported in the media, five attorneys in my office have submitted a letter asking me to resign. While I respect their opinion, I vehemently disagree with the characterization of me in this letter and I have no plans to resign. I am honored to have been duly elected County Attorney and will continue to perform my duties as I was elected to do.  In an office of over 1000 employees, it is not surprising that there are some who do not agree with every decision I make. I accept the current challenge with humility and will continue to do what I think is right and just for the citizens of this community."

Other Adel critics speak out

In recent months, some community activist groups, like Mass Liberation AZ, have been calling on Adel to step down. Their efforts include launching a billboard campaign against Adel.

The groups' calls for Adel's resignation have increased since the letter's release.

"The call to resign is a small, token gesture, and it’s in line with what we’ve been calling for, for two years now," said Fred Curtis with Mass Liberation AZ.

"I was not surprised to see some of these allegations today, because they’re very similar to what my client has been reporting, and what my client was aware during her time in the charging and the dismissal of those charges," said Tom Morning, an attorney representing April Sponsel. Adel is the defendant in a lawsuit filed by Sponsel, who claims Adel defamed her in the media amid the fallout from a high-profile case that aimed to charge protesters in 2020 as gang members.

The Associated Press (AP) contributed to this report.

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