A Secretary's Revenge

Deborah Vasquez, a secretary in the Attorney General's Office, overstepped her authority to help a kidnaped child. After being upbraided, she spread fantasy and half-truth that have been used to discredit the attorney general's top assistant, Rob Carey.

Vasquez began working for Carey in December 1993. Almost from the first moment, her personal life corkscrewed into the dark.

Over the holidays, her boyfriend's mother went odd.
"It happened Christmas night," said Vasquez. "She was acting very, very strange. He noticed she was eating with the wrong hand.

"So he took her to the hospital Christmas night."
It was a brain tumor.
When the mother died, the devastated boyfriend left all of the terrible associations of Arizona behind and moved to California.

Looking back, Vasquez is resolute, even noble.
"He moved to Los Angeles, and I made it clear, 'I understand that you need to go, that you can't be here. And so if you decide to go, I'm not sure I'll still be here waiting for you.' He tried, I mean, we had talked about getting married for a long time."

Part of the problem was that her boyfriend had never been a parent, and he had difficulty, according to Vasquez, accepting the chaos that comes with children; the pets, the noise, the illnesses.

Somehow, she convinced herself through four difficult years of their relationship that there was hope for the two of them.

"But it was becoming clear to me, because of everything I was going through emotionally, I really didn't think it was fair to even ask him to try.

"To be honest, it really, really hurt to lose him. But it doesn't seem fair for me to ask anybody, especially someone who's had a life where they've only had to worry about themselves, it didn't seem fair to ask anyone to try and step in and help."

Though Vasquez's account has taken on the dignity of a recollection cleansed by time, when the split first unfolded, she told her colleagues at work a fuller tale of heartbreak.

Sherri Van Horsen sat across from Vasquez at work and remembered the breakup.

She testified at a hearing on Vasquez's unemployment benefits about numerous instances when the former secretary's turbulent life affected her work for the worse.

"She had a boyfriend whose mother had recently passed away," says Van Horsen. "She helped the boyfriend eliminate the estate, you know, basically getting things together for sale. After that, the boyfriend left her for another girl and went to California."

If it was difficult to go home to a certain emptiness at night, Vasquez found it no easier to come to work. Everyone in the office noticed that she badmouthed her boss incessantly. Part of it was frustration.

Vasquez believed Carey ought to reorient the Attorney General's Office to benefit kids, and she believed it without the slightest pang of doubt that her expectation might be inappropriate.

She never accepted a simple reality of Arizona law. State statutes allocate juvenile crime to local prosecutors; that is, county attorneys.

Violent kids were a problem. She worked for the attorney general; therefore, in Deborah Vasquez's mind, the attorney general should do something about gangs.

She turns indignant when recalling Carey's attitude on the subject.
"He used to tell me that his priorities were not my priorities," Vasquez says when describing Carey's shortcomings.

The tension was palpable.
Karrie Dozer, the attorney general's press liaison, worked in the same office with Carey and Vasquez.

"She talked about him often, his being a workaholic, and to her that was a horrible thing. ... There was almost a jealous relationship there. She looked at Rob's lifestyle as being very high-profile and very fast-paced. She would talk with disdain about the people he knew, or the places he'd been ..."

Nothing charts the deep chasm between Vasquez and Carey like their differing accounts of a state Supreme Court brief he wrote in the fall of 1994.

Vasquez cites that day as one she will never forget.
"Mr. Carey had been out of town, a ski vacation for a long weekend, and when he came back, he had a brief due in the Supreme Court at noon on 'Bring Your Daughter to Work Day,'" said Vasquez.

"He had a brief due, and he had not prepared for it because he had been on a ski vacation. And so he was in a complete panic trying to get this thing filed. He was working at 11:30 in the morning, and it was due at noon at the Supreme Court. And my daughter was there, and we were trying to work on this brief."

This is a vivid memory for Vasquez, but it is also nonsense.
Carey had not been off skiing. Nor was it Hallmark's "Bring Your Daughter to Work Day," which is in April.

Carey did only one Supreme Court brief when Vasquez worked for him, and it was in September.

This temporal discrepancy is not just a quibble with Vasquez's recollection. It illustrates her tendency to fantasize.

On the date in question, there was no snow on the Colorado mountains. Consequently, Carey could not have even suggested to Vasquez that he'd gone skiing.

No, Carey was in Colorado to take advantage of the isolation at his parents' condominium in the Rockies and to focus upon his work.

Now, for all Vasquez knew, Carey could have spent his time mountain-biking. But he did not.

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