La Paz County Attorney Tony Rogers has ended the employment of his former Chief Deputy, Karen Hobbs, who is alleging wrongful termination saying he fired her because she’s running against him in the election.
Speaking to Parker Live on Monday, Hobbs said she got an email on Friday morning from Rogers saying, “Your help is no longer needed,” terminating her employment at the end of the same day.
Hobbs had taken out papers the previous Monday to run against Rogers for County Attorney in the upcoming election. She says she had taken some vacation days in order to collect the required number of signatures, which she has now submitted to the Elections Department, making her an official candidate in the race. As of Monday, there were no other candidates except Rogers.
“I’ve always supported the office, worked for the office, been dedicated to the office,” she said. “Things were a little tense after I ran for Superior Court Judge last time, but I’m not going to be bullied into not running, it’s open to candidates and I feel I would do a good job and can contribute.”
The 2018 election for Judge of the Superior Court was close, with just 24 votes separating Hobbs and Jessica Quickle, who won the election. In the weeks beforehand, Judge Matt Newman had issued some news-making rebukes to Hobbs in open court over her handling of the Kitage Lynch triple homicide case, which was dismissed, and over lack of evidence against another murder suspect, Marcos Ricardo Ruiz-Zazueta. Last month, Rogers said his office is now ready to bring Lynch to trial again. Hobbs had also been accused of misconduct two years earlier, when Sheriff John Drum filed an ethics complaint over her handling of the homicide case against Sean Ackerman, a move Hobbs called “dirty tricks done dirt cheap”.
Most employees of La Paz County, including Hobbs, are employed “at will”, which under Arizona state law typically means they can have their employment terminated for any reason or none, except for ‘unlawful’ reasons such as discrimination on the basis of prejudice. But according to Rogers, Hobbs has alleged wrongful termination and proposed a settlement to the County.
“While I can confirm that Karen Hobbs is no longer employed at the La Paz County Attorney’s Office, Mrs. Hobbs has already alleged wrongful termination and proposed a settlement to the county,” Rogers told Parker Live. “Therefore, because this potentially involves litigation, I cannot comment further.”
Last May, Hobbs was replaced as Rogers’ Chief Deputy by Ryan Dooley, who now holds the position. Hobbs will be on this year’s Republican primary ballot for County Attorney.