Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, the Democrat frontrunner for Arizona governor, has lost a major court case after the jury found that she had played a central role in firing a black female staffer soon after the staffer complained that she was being paid less than her white male colleagues.
The staffer, Talonya Adams, was awarded $2.75 million by the jury after they found that she “was being discriminated against on the basis of race or sex with respect to her pay and was terminated for that reason” in 2015.
Adams blamed Katie Hobbs, who was the state senate minority leader at the time, for her firing.
“This was Katie Hobbs’s decision,” Adams said in an interview with Phoenix-based 12 News. “I think she’s always been very uncomfortable with minorities. She seems wholly disconnected from people of color.”
The former staffer now plans to campaign against Hobbs, saying that she is not “a person that should be bestowed the power or the authority to govern the citizens of Arizona.”
After the verdict was announced, Democrats in the state spoke out against Hobbs.
Former state legislator Aaron Lieberman, who is running against Hobbs in the Democrat primary for governor, called the incident “abhorrent to all Arizonans.”
“The simple truth is that a jury of her peers has now concluded, twice, that Talonya Adams was fired by Katie Hobbs for asking to be paid as much by her white male counterparts,” he said in a statement. “As Democrats, it should be unacceptable from someone who wants to serve as our nominee for governor.”
Hobbs and Lieberman are both running to succeed Republican Governor Doug Ducey, who cannot run for reelection due to term limits. Republican candidates for the governor spot include former congressman Matt Salmon, state treasurer Kimberly Yee, and former local news anchor Kari Lake.