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Katie Hobbs issues apology for 2015 firing of African-American senate staffer

The Democratic gubernatorial candidate said she regrets any pain she caused to Talonya Adams, who successfully sued the Arizona Senate for racial discrimination.

PHOENIX — Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs apologized Wednesday to the African-American policy adviser who recently won a multimillion-dollar jury award against the Arizona Senate for racial and sex discrimination.

A federal jury determined Talonya Adams, 45, was fired by the state Senate in 2015 because she complained that her low pay was the result of racial and sex discrimination. She was awarded more than $2 million in damages, which will be knocked down to $300,000 due to a federal statute.

Hobbs, who was a state senator at the time of Adams' dismissal, testified during the civil trial that her termination was a "group decision" done by "consensus." 

Current and former Democratic state lawmakers have said that they had no problems with Adams' job performance. 

Adams has criticized Hobbs' responses to the verdict and called her out for not taking more responsibility. 

"I think she's always been very uncomfortable with minorities," Adams told 12 News last month. "She seems wholly disconnected from people of color."

RELATED: Katie Hobbs 'very uncomfortable with minorities,' African-American aide says after winning discrimination case

On Wednesday, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate said she regrets any harm she had done to Adams.

"What Ms. Adams experienced is yet another example of the systemic inequities and racism that have long permeated every aspect of our lives, too often in ways that are invisible to people like me," Hobbs said.

RELATED: Fired African-American staffer took on AZ Senate. Now she's getting her job back - and $350K

She promised to recruit women and people of color to leadership positions within her political campaign. 

"I know that we can build a campaign and a government that is inclusive, accountable and works for all Arizonans," Hobbs added.

Read Hobbs' full statement on the matter here.

Hobbs' Democratic opponents in the gubernatorial race have said her actions during Adams' termination raise doubt in her ability to lead the state.

The Republican National Committee made a statement slamming Hobbs for what they said was a "forced apology."

"After disappearing for weeks, Katie Hobbs now recognizes she messed up so badly that she’s issued a straight-to-camera apology video," RNC spokesperson Ben Petersen said.

"Hobbs’ forced apology smacks of pandering and desperation. She can’t even correctly spell the name of her discrimination victim. This is too little, too late. Hobbs may be staying in the race, but her campaign is doomed."

RELATED: Katie Hobbs, Kari Lake lead early polls in Arizona's governor race

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