Rachel Mitchell, Famed Kavanaugh Interrogator, Enters County Attorney’s Race

In 2018, profession prosecutor Rachel Mitchell briefly thrust the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office into the nationwide highlight.

At that point, Mitchell was the chief of the county’s intercourse crimes division. She was tasked by Senate Republicans to query U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh throughout his affirmation hearings, in addition to Christine Blasey Ford, who had accused him of assaulting her many years earlier.

The high-stakes case drew some nationwide criticism that Mitchell, a registered Republican, was utilizing her place in a partisan trend.

Now, Mitchell is as soon as once more within the highlight. On Wednesday, she launched her marketing campaign to develop into Maricopa County Attorney, armed with insider standing, an extended and distinguished profession, and the endorsement of former county lawyer Rick Romley.

Mitchell is becoming a member of a fast-paced race for the county lawyer’s seat. The highly effective place oversees tens of 1000’s of felony prosecutions within the county every year. Mitchell’s bid for the highest job comes simply weeks after she and 4 different high county prosecutors signed a letter calling for the resignation of their boss.

Mitchell continued her criticism in asserting her bid on Twitter Wednesday. “As the next county attorney, I will not be learning the job while doing the job,” she wrote.

The race started abruptly on Monday, when County Attorney Allister Adel, who had been topic to months of mounting scrutiny over her dealing with of the workplace, introduced her resignation. It was an about-face from her insistence for weeks that she had no plans to step down.

In the hours that adopted, many on the left rapidly rallied behind Adel’s challenger within the 2020 election: Julie Gunnigle, an lawyer and former prosecutor.

Back in 2020, Gunnigle misplaced to Adel by simply two proportion factors. Since, she has continued to be a vocal critic of Adel and MCAO and is now positioning herself because the progressive, reform-minded candidate. Within simply 24 hours of Adel’s resignation, Gunnigle had garnered sufficient signatures — over 4,000 — to safe her a spot on the August main poll.

She was thrilled by the momentum, she advised Phoenix New Times: “I don’t even have the words to describe what this run looks like. The difference between this time and last time has been absolutely palpable.”

Days later, Mitchell is now rising as a robust conservative opponent. She’s a Republican who donated to Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s campaigns in 2013 and 2018, in keeping with state marketing campaign finance information.

But it’s not Mitchell’s first bid for the workplace, both. Though she didn’t problem Adel within the 2020 race, she did apply for the job again in 2019, vying to fill Bill Montgomery’s seat after he was appointed to the Arizona Supreme Court.

Mitchell didn’t instantly reply to New Times’ interview requests Wednesday however laid out her credentials in her Twitter announcement.

“For the past 30 years I’ve dedicated my career to protecting families by prosecuting crimes against children, ensuring the integrity of our legal system, and leading teams of prosecutors holding dangerous criminals accountable,” Mitchell tweeted.

In 2018, through the Kavanaugh affirmation hearings, Mitchell obtained blowback from each side of the political aisle. Critics at residence and on the left mentioned it was inappropriate for her to query a sufferer in partisan proceedings. Republican pundits complained that she didn’t take a harsher strategy in opposition to Ford.

In a memo following her questioning, Mitchell wrote of Ford’s case: “A ‘he said, she said’ case is incredibly difficult to prove. But this case is even weaker than that,” saying {that a} “reasonable prosecutor” wouldn’t carry costs.

She was talking from expertise. For many years, Mitchell has led the intercourse crimes division at MCAO. Eventually, she rose to deputy chief below Montgomery, amid political turmoil within the workplace.

She has overseen some key instances on the county, together with a main intercourse abuse case involving the Catholic church. One pastor concerned, Paul LeBrun, obtained a most sentence of 111 years.

In a telephone name with New Times, Romley praised Mitchell’s work on that case, saying that it demonstrated her ability and equity as a prosecutor.

“The thing that a person brings most to the office of county attorney is judgment,” he said. “You have a tremendous amount of power, and how you wield that power is absolutely critical.”

Of course, Romley had additionally endorsed Allister Adel for her 2020 run, calling her a “serious-minded reformer” at the time. Then, her office became embroiled in scandals.

As Adel began to face mounting scrutiny, due to MCAO’s political prosecutions of protesters and questions about her sobriety, Romley changed his tune. Once a mentor to Adel, he issued several public calls for her to step down.

On Wednesday, Romley speculated that the public pressure forced Adel to resign — in tandem with the prospect of discipline from the Arizona State Bar over misconduct while in office.

“I feel she noticed the snowballing impact was starting to happen,” Romley said. “What I’ve heard was that the state bar was approaching her, and there was doubtlessly a suspension of her license.”

The state bar has confirmed that Adel was facing multiple investigations. The organization has provided few specifics, but has said it is investigating allegations of extended absences and misconduct raised in the letter from Mitchell and other top prosecutors. According to reports by ABC15, another investigation by the State Bar concerns the political prosecutions of protesters in 2020.

Romley said he did not expect a similar pattern with Mitchell. He had hired her and worked with her for decades, he said, and trusted her character. “I know what I’m getting with Rachel,” he said. “We just can’t afford to take another chance and have it blow up in our face.”

Gunnigle, meanwhile, pulled no punches in speaking about her opponent.

“I don’t consider the voters can belief somebody who noticed the political prosecutions popping out of that workplace and mentioned nothing,” Gunnigle said of Mitchell. “She represents the established order.”

Gunnigle said MCAO has “a legacy of lies, corruption and collusion,” and argued that an insider was not the right person to fix it. She declined to praise Mitchell for her February letter demanding Adel’s resignation, saying she had waited too long to speak out about the turmoil at the office.

And as for the Kavanaugh hearings, that was a “blatantly partisan usage of the county attorney’s office,” Gunnigle argued.

Jamaar Williams, a public defender and organizer with Black Lives Matter Phoenix Metro, said that Adel’s tenure at the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office should have proved that conservative promises of reform were empty. “Adel already made guarantees to alter the workplace. She already made guarantees to alter the practices. And she totally failed,” he said.

Before her resignation, Adel had touted her work on expungements of old pot charges and victim advocacy. The office has proactively expunged over 10,000 cannabis charges from records and invested in new diversion programs for other minor charges.

As for Mitchell and other insider candidates that have lined up, Williams said: “They’re not curious about [reforms]. It would not go well with their narrative. It would not go well with them politically.”

Throughout her long career at MCAO, Mitchell has overseen some scandals. Back in 2003, New Times uncovered how Mitchell’s workplace had dropped a critical intercourse abuse case involving a disabled girl, regardless of sturdy proof backing up the sufferer’s story.

Per Maricopa County Recorder’s information, seven candidates have put their hat within the ring for the Maricopa County lawyer’s seat. They embody Gunnigle and Mitchel, as properly former county prosecutor and now Goodyear metropolis prosecutor Gina Godbehere, Doug Ducey’s normal counsel Anni Foster, native attorneys Stephen Walker and James Woods, and former Libertarian Party chairman and lawyer Michael Kielsky.

All are working as Republicans, save for Gunnigle, a Democrat, and Kielsky, a Libertarian.

Before voters head to the polls, county supervisors will appoint an interim county lawyer to supervise the workplace.

Though it is not clear but who is likely to be their decide, the person should be a registered Republican. Rules require the appointee to be a part of the identical political get together because the particular person they’re changing. Adel is a registered Republican.

In the meantime, county lawyer hopefuls have simply two weeks to gather the signatures wanted to get on the first poll. That election will likely be held on August 2. 

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