Prosecutors call for Maricopa County Attorney Adel to resign over job, sobriety concerns

Feb 15, 2022, 11:10 AM | Updated: Feb 16, 2022, 7:14 am

(Facebook Photo/Maricopa County Attorney's Office)...

(Facebook Photo/Maricopa County Attorney's Office)

(Facebook Photo/Maricopa County Attorney's Office)

PHOENIX — Top prosecutors in Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel’s office are calling on her to resign amid continued concerns she hasn’t been able to perform the duties of the job while battling alcoholism and other health problems.

Five MCAO criminal division chiefs sent a four-page letter Monday to Adel asking for her resignation, accusing the Republican of continuing to drink following treatment and letting the problem bleed into her work performance.

The letter was also sent to Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Gates.

Adel told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News as recently as Feb. 7 she believed she was fit to perform her high-profile job.

“The totality of your actions have led to grave concerns with your ability to continue leading the third-largest prosecution agency in the country,” the letter reads.

Adel issued a response Tuesday afternoon saying she planned to stay in office.

“While I respect their opinion, I vehemently disagree with the characterization of me in this letter and I have no plans to resign,” she said in a statement.

“I am honored to have been duly elected county attorney and will continue to perform my duties as I was elected to do.”

The division chiefs said they met with Adel on Nov. 30 to discuss drinking concerns with her, where Adel admitted to relapsing on two occasions, according to the letter.

During the meeting, the chiefs asked Adel to be more present in the office in order to alleviate concerns about her job performance, a request she agreed with.

In early February, following reports that she’d been missing work, she released a statement saying she and her children contracted COVID-19 in January.

However, the letter says she was only in the office for “perhaps a few half days” from mid-December to the end of January.

“While we understand that the holidays encompassed some of this time and that your family contracted COVID during this time, it was disappointing and quite frankly shocking in light of our Nov. 30 meeting,” according to the letter.

Concerns about Adel’s sobriety and ability to perform the job have persisted.

An MCAO bureau chief said an 11 a.m. Monday phone call with Adel led him to report that the county attorney “displayed obvious signs of impairment during the conversation.”

On Wednesday, Adel’s communications director, Jennifer Liewer, submitted her resignation, citing a mutual loss of trust and confidence in professional interactions.

A day later, Adel chose to have Liewer escorted out of the building and ordered her to have no contact with other MCAO employees, a decision described as “illogical and irrational” in the prosecutors’ letter.

“We did not come to this decision lightly — far from it,” the letter from the division chiefs says. “We were hopeful you would change course after our Nov. 30 meeting and show the leadership that seemed so promising when you first took office.

“Unfortunately, things have gotten worse, not better.”

Adel, the first female elected to the position, sought in-patient services in Arizona for anxiety and “unhealthy coping behaviors” on Aug. 29, 2021.

A week later, Adel was transferred to a facility in California.

She revealed to the public on Sept. 10 she would be away from the office, 12 days after first seeking help for her problems.

“We informed you that while your personal life was ordinarily none of our business, it becomes our business if/when it spills into the work of the office,” the letter reads.

Adel defeated Democratic challenger Julie Gunnigle in the November 2020 election to retain her position after she was appointed to replace Bill Montgomery, who left for a seat on the state Supreme Court.

Adel spent election night in the hospital having emergency surgery for a brain bleed, the result of an earlier fall at home.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

The auction will feature more than 1,300 professionally appraised lots. (Sierra Auction Photos)...

David Veenstra

Arizona Department of Revenue to auction off unclaimed property

The Arizona Department of Revenue is auctioning off unclaimed property from abandoned safe deposit boxes this week.

2 hours ago

Shopping center developer Macerich withdrew its proposal with the city of Phoenix's planning hearin...

Macerich pumps brakes on proposal for new Biltmore office tower

Prominent shopping center owner and developer Macerich Co. is delaying its plans for a new Class A office building.

3 hours ago

Persian New Year Festival...

Annual Persian New Year Festival adds fashion show, musical performance to schedule

This year's version of the Persian New Year Festival will feature three events over four days starting Feb. 28 in Scottsdale.

13 hours ago

42-year-old Joseph D. Eschief (left), 27-year-old Antonio N. Eschief and 46-year-old Selena Dewey. ...

4 people stabbed during early-morning melee at Scottsdale bar

A suspect is in custody after four people were stabbed early Saturday during a violent altercation at a bar in Scottsdale.

13 hours ago

Phoenix Fire...

Occupant dead after vehicular crash leads to flames in Phoenix

One person died and two others suffered non-life-threatening injuries after a vehicle crash sparked a fire in Phoenix, authorities said. 

14 hours ago

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump hugs and kisses the American flag a...

Associated Press

Trump calls himself a ‘proud political dissident’ in CPAC speech

In a CPAC speech, Trump painted an apocalyptic vision of the future if President Joe Biden wins again as the two prepare for a rematch.

15 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Fiesta Bowl Foundation

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade is excitingly upon us

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe is upon us! The attraction honors Arizona and the history of the game.


Collins Comfort Masters

Avoid a potential emergency and get your home’s heating and furnace safety checked

With the weather getting colder throughout the Valley, the best time to make sure your heating is all up to date is now. 


Canvas Annuity

Interest rates may have peaked. Should you buy a CD, high-yield savings account, or a fixed annuity?

Interest rates are the highest they’ve been in decades, and it looks like the Fed has paused hikes. This may be the best time to lock in rates for long-term, low-risk financial products like fixed annuities.

Prosecutors call for Maricopa County Attorney Adel to resign over job, sobriety concerns