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3 things to know about racial discrimination case involving Katie Hobbs

Opponents of Democratic candidate for governor claim courtroom victory by fired African-American adviser has cost taxpayers millions. It hasn't.

PHOENIX — Katie Hobbs came under attack during the Democratic primary for governor over the firing of an African-American policy adviser back in 2015. 

The attacks have only intensified, on social media in particular, during the general election campaign.

But Hobbs' opponents are now making false claims about "convictions," criminal charges, and millions of dollars in payments by taxpayers. 

Here's a review of three of those claims and the facts:

Background on case

First, some background. 

In early 2015, Hobbs was the Democratic minority leader of the state Senate. She would be elected secretary of state in 2018. 

Talonya Adams, who's a lawyer, was a policy adviser on the Democratic staff and the only African-American policy advisor at the Capitol.

In February 2015, Adams was fired, in part for protesting that she was paid less than her white colleagues.

Was Hobbs convicted of a crime?

Here's what Hobbs' Republican opponent, Kari Lake, said on NewsMax recently:

"I think a lot of people don't realize she's a twice convicted racist."

Hobbs wasn't convicted of anything. No criminal charges were filed.

Adams - acting as her own lawyer in federal court - would file and win two civil lawsuits alleging sex and racial discrimination.

The lawsuits were filed against the Arizona State Senate. Hobbs was not named as a defendant. 

But Hobbs, her chief of staff, as well as the Senate Republicans' chief of staff - who oversaw Senate operations - all testified. 

During the second trial, Hobbs testified she had “lost trust” in Adams, in part because of Adams' emergency leave to care for her son out of state.

What did juries decide?

Many of the attacks on Hobbs claim taxpayers have paid out millions of dollars as a result of a court judgment.

The second jury awarded her $2.75 million in damages last year after finding Adams was a victim of racial and sexual discrimination and retaliation.

But under federal law, the damages award was capped at $300,000.

Adding in back pay and lost benefits, the judge ruled Adams was entitled to $353,000 in damages.

Has Adams been paid?

Almost a year after Adams was awarded damages and she got her job back, she hasn't received a dime. 

It's up to the Republican-controlled state Senate to cut a check. 

Senate spokeswoman Kim Quintero told 12News that it's working on how and when to proceed with the payment.

Quintero said the Senate was waiting to see whether Adams' compensation from the court might increase.

Adams had been pursuing a larger damages award after the initial judgement in December 2021. She hasn't filed any new court briefs since March of this year.

UPDATE This story was first posted on Sept. 14. On Sept. 29, an Arizona Department of Administration spokeswoman told 12News that Adams was paid $300,000 on Sept. 21, under the verdict for compensatory damages. 

Apology not accepted

Hobbs issued an apology to Adams late last year, in a campaign-produced video.

"I apologize to Miss Adams," Hobbs said. "I'm truly sorry for the real harm I caused Miss Adams and her family."

Adams did not accept it.

"Her statement is not an apology," Adams said at the time. "It's designed to get her over a political hurdle."

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