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Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel discusses alcoholism, responds to criticism

Adel's decisions determine if and how thousands of people are investigated and charged for crimes.

PHOENIX — Former Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley tells The Arizona Republic that key members of the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office are reaching out to him for help because there is a void of leadership at the office.

Romley is a Republican and one-time endorser of current County Attorney Allister Adel and is well regarded among many public officials.

“They say she (Adel) is never there,” Romley is quoted as saying. “They say she is in over her head and they have lost confidence.”

Adel underwent two brain surgeries last year to treat a blood clot. Then last September, she revealed she was at a full-time rehab facility “seeking treatment for anxiety and to address unhealthy coping behaviors including an eating disorder and alcohol use.”

Adel leads the county attorney’s office in the nation’s fourth most populated county. Her decisions determine if and how thousands of people are investigated and charged for crimes.

On Monday, Adel acknowledged in an interview with KTAR that morale is low at the county attorney’s office but pointed to understaffing and a backlog of cases.

“I was elected by the people to do the job and we’ve made some significant strides and it’s unfortunate that someone’s personal recovery journey has to be so politicized,” Adel told the radio station. “I meet with my senior management team regularly and it’s disappointing that Mr. Romley never came to me with any of these concerns.”

Adel told KTAR she is fit to continue leading the office.

“I am absolutely an alcoholic and that’s why when I get myself into a situation where I’m concerned or even have a craving I immediately pick up the phone and call my sponsor, call my therapist,” Adel said in the interview. “I just want people to understand that… this is a journey but I’m happy to be on it. I really, really I truly am…. I’m just going to keep working my programs. That’s what all I can do.”

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