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Allister Adel's chief spokeswoman resigns, citing 'mutual loss of trust and confidence'

"There has been a mutual loss of trust and confidence in our professional interactions over the past several months," Jennifer Liewer says in her resignation letter.

PHOENIX — The communications director for Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel submitted her resignation Wednesday, indicating that the need to deal with questions about Adel's sobriety had become a distraction from the job of telling the public what the office is doing.

"There has been a mutual loss of trust and confidence in our professional interactions over the past several months," Jennifer Liewer says in her resignation letter, obtained by 12 News.

"This dynamic has created an environment that unfortunately prevents me from representing the best interests of the employees of the Maricopa County Attorney's Office and my community."

"As I have repeatedly conveyed, I believe the best use of the communications team is to communicate about the work of the office - not in defending the county attorney individually," the letter reads. 

12 News has learned Liewer was escorted out of the county attorney's office on Thursday. She could not be reached for comment. 

The resignation letter marks the first documented acknowledgment by an Adel employee that her sobriety is having an impact on the office's operations.

A spokeswoman for the county attorney emailed this response to 12 News:

"On February 9, 2022, Communications Director Jennifer Liewer submitted her letter of resignation to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office. She will be assisting with the transition of her position until March 2. We thank Jennifer for her service to the office and wish her well in her future endeavors."  

Questions about Adel's sobriety and job performance became public last week after current and former county officials shared concerns that she was drinking again.

Adel told KTAR radio late last week that she was fit to lead the office.

“I am absolutely an alcoholic," she said, "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."

Five months ago, Adel was forced to disclose she had been seeking treatment for two weeks for anxiety, alcohol abuse and an eating disorder. 

Adel went public after Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone learned she was in rehab. He questioned how she could lead the office remotely.

Adel leads one of the largest prosecutorial agencies in the country. As county attorney, she is responsible for charging decisions that include whether to seek the death penalty against a defendant.

Liewer has served as communications director for several years, at the city and state levels. In her resignation later, Liewer recommends that Adel hire a third-party public relations professional to handle questions about her health.

Liewer joined Adel's office when she was sworn in as county attorney in October 2019. Adel was appointed to fill a vacancy left by the resignation of Bill Montgomery. She is the first woman to lead the county prosecutor's office.

Her three years in office have been plagued by health problems.

Adel was elected to a full-four year term in November 2020. But on Election Night, Adel was rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery to treat a brain bleed. She returned to the office two months later.

The office has come under harsh scrutiny for its decision to charge 15 Black Lives Matter protesters with felonies. The charges were later dropped, and Adel now faces a defamation lawsuit by the prosecutor on the case.

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