Katie Hobbs, the former governor of Arizona, has stepped down temporarily as state treasurer Kimberly Yee. Yee, a Republican, served as acting governor until mid-morning on Thursday. Hobbs’ office told Newsweek that Yee took over as acting governor because the governor, secretary of state, and attorney general were all out of the state at the same time, as set out in the Arizona constitution. Yee said she was “pleased to step into this role.”
The announcement prompted intense speculation on social media, as well as mockery from the campaign of Kari Lake, the Republican who lost to Hobbs last November. Lake has refused to concede defeat and insists the election was rigged against her, despite this claim being repeatedly rejected in court. The office of Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes also reached out to Newsweek, noting it is standard for the state treasurer to take over as acting governor when the governor, secretary of state, and attorney general are all out of the state at the same time.
Yee took over briefly as Hobbs was having meetings in Washington D.C. while Brnovich and Mayes, second and third in line respectively, were out of state at the same time. Fontes held meetings with Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, White House staff, and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency regarding the anticipated partial U.S. government shutdown. He returned to Arizona on Friday, according to his spokesperson.
The initial announcement sparked intense speculation on social media. Monica Crowley, who was Treasury assistant secretary for public affairs under Donald Trump, posted on X asking where Hobbs was, adding: “WTF is going on in Arizona?!” Erin Elizabeth, who describes herself on X as a “free speech journalist” and has more than 146,000 followers, posted: “JUST IN — Katie Hobbs is not the Governor of Arizona. Republican Kimberly Yee the state treasurer is currently the Acting Governor. We do not know a reason yet why this has happened. Thoughts?”
Yee said in her statement that she 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. The state’s Republican Senate has refused to confirm 13 of Hobbs’s cabinet nominees, in what the governor has described as “an abuse of the confirmation process.”
Jake Hoffman, the Republican state senator who heads the nominations committee, replied: “Hobbs is the only person to blame for her nominees struggling to succeed under actual due diligence.” Yee added, “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.