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 September 29, 2023

Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs temporarily steps aside without explanation

Arizona Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs made headlines Wednesday after temporarily stepping down without public explanation, the Washington Examiner reported. In her absence, Arizona State Treasurer Kimberly Yee was acting governor for the day.

"I have been notified that I will be serving as Acting Governor later this evening until mid-morning tomorrow. While I am pleased to step into this role, I will refrain from naming directors to the 13 agencies that currently have vacancies and will not call the Arizona Legislature into session to confirm them," Yee said in a statement.

Yee, a top Republican in Arizona, had previously criticized Hobbs for her decision to ram through her 13 candidates as "deputy directors" rather than go through the state Senate.  Hobbs had announced Monday that she was tired of the "political circus" and would instead use "other lawful avenues" to put her nominees in place.

"That being said, I do hope when the Governor returns to Arizona, she will promptly name qualified directors to these important state agencies and remove the legal uncertainty that exists for all of the regulatory actions taken by the agencies. I expect to see a swift resolution to this matter so we can get back to getting the work done for Arizona taxpayers," Yee continued.

"The people of Arizona deserve leaders who follow the rule of law," she concluded. Yee ended up enjoying her job as governor for less than a day before Hobbs returned.

It's possible Yee chose to make this announcement to confirm she would not be doing anything to change things in her absence. Previously, Yee blocked Hobbs's picks, Elizabeth Alvarado-Thorson of the Arizona Department of Administration and Barbara Richardson of the Arizona Department of Insurance and Financial Institutions, from a meeting of the State Board of Investment.

Yee didn't recognize them as official cabinet members because of Hobbs' convoluted way of placing them in their positions. Hobbs reasoned that she didn't want to be at the mercy of the GOP majority that could override her picks and simply circumvented the process, which Yee didn't like.

"Yesterday's decision by the Governor to pull the nominations of these cabinet-level positions has created chaos and confusion that is contrary to the orderly administration of government business," Yee posted to X, formerly Twitter. "The absence of lawfully appointed directors of these two agencies creates legal uncertainty and jeopardizes the proceedings of the State Board of Investment."

With the two still locked in a disagreement, Fox News initially said that Yee took over after a "mysterious disappearance of Gov. Katie Hobbs," AZ Central reported. That immediately led to social media rumors that Hobbs was "indicted" over ties to a Mexican drug cartel.

The network would later change the story to reflect the facts, but it notably never got around to reporting the mundane reason she was away. As part of a pre-planned trip, Hobbs took a meeting with Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas in Washington, D.C., Wednesday.

She returned to the Grand Canyon State the following day. As it would turn out, Yee was tapped to be the acting governor because of the chain of command in Arizona.

The person who should be next in command, Arizona Secretary of State Adrian Fontes, was also in Washington, D.C. Fontes met with Congress "about the need for federal funding for elections," a spokesperson told AZ Central.

Then comes State Attorney General Kris Mayes, who would have taken the role except that she was also in the nation's capital for "meetings" and was expected to return Friday. Yee was the next in line after that and took her place for less than a day.

There's no word why so many top officials from the state happened to be in Washington, D.C., on the same day. However, it's notable that Yee was given the chance to wield her power while Hobbs was away and still chose not to.

Written By:
Christine Favocci

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