'I apologize to Ms. Adams': Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs issues apology to fired Senate staffer

A former Arizona Senate staffer fired in 2015 received millions of dollars in a discrimination lawsuit and an apology from Secretary of State and Democratic Candidate for Governor, Katie Hobbs.

It comes after Hobbs came under fire for how she responded to jury verdicts that said discrimination played a role in the firing.

"I understand that my response fell short of taking real accountability," Hobbs said, in part. She acknowledged and addressed the heavy criticism she’s faced in the fallout of her role and response to Talonya Adams' firing.

Adams was a Senate staffer fired in 2015 when Hobbs was the minority leader of the chamber. Two court cases agreed Adams faced discrimination and retaliation in the firing.

The former staffer was awarded $1 million and got her job back. After a new trial, she was awarded $2.75 million in damages, although this number was later reduced because of a cap on discrimination judgments under federal law.

"Please allow me to say this clearly and unequivocally. I apologize to Ms. Adams. I'm truly sorry for the real harm I caused Ms. Adams and her family. My response to the jury verdict was shortsighted, unnecessarily defensive, and failed to meet the moment," Hobbs said in her apology video.

Adams was vocal about her opposition to Hobbs’ run for governor, as well as her opposition to Hobbs' current role as Secretary of State.

"I think the best thing she can do is withdraw her candidacy. And the state would be best served if she resigned from the role she’s currently in," Adams said in November 2021.

Hobbs made a pledge for more diversity and inclusion in state government later in the video.

"What Ms. Adams experienced is yet another example of the systemic inequities of racism that have long permeated every aspect of our lives too often in ways that are invisible to people like me," Hobbs said.

Hobbs' campaign says she met with Black community leaders in person on Dec. 8 to apologize and take responsibility.

Adams responds to Hobb's apology

Adams said she has not heard from Hobbs personally.

"Her contact with me has been exactly zero, because In her heart, there's no intention to cure. There's no desire to make it right," said Adams.

Adams says Hobbs handled the firing, deflected blame, and tried to dismantle her character.

"Kate Hobbs knew what she was doing. She was very proud of it when she did it, and up until she realized the impact it was going to have on her political ambitions did she start attempting to course correct in the public domain," said Adams.

Adams said the video apology by Hobbs fell short.

"Her statement is not an apology," said Adams. "I think it’s a political ploy, to be completely honest, and whether or not she's apologetic is separate and different from whether or not she's fit to serve."

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