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Attorney General discipline targeted in amendment


Attorney General discipline targeted in amendment

Feb 19, 2024 | 11:32 am ET
By Niki Kelly
Attorney General discipline targeted in amendment
Sen. Mike Gaskill questions witnesses in a committee Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2024. He spoke in strong opposition of a bill on insurance payouts for ambulance services. (Leslie Bonilla Muñiz/Indiana Capital Chronicle)

The Senate Elections Committee on Monday added an amendment to a bill that could block some Hoosiers from running for Attorney General.

The amendment to House Bill 1265 would add a qualification to run for attorney general, saying the person can’t have been disbarred or suspended without automatic reinstatement within one year of the election.

The bill then passed the committee 6-2.

It wouldn’t currently apply to Attorney General Todd Rokita, who was reprimanded for misconduct in November. But new complaints were filed against Rokita, which are still working through the disciplinary process. If he were suspended without automatic reinstatement he would be ineligible to run under this amendment.

Former Attorney General Curtis Hill was suspended for 30 days in May 2020 for groping four women but was automatically reinstated. Later that year, Rokita defeated Hill in a convention and snagged the Republican nomination for the office.

Pendleton Republican Sen. Mike Gaskill, who chairs the committee, refused to entertain several amendments filed on the same bill and another one. But he allowed this amendment to move. It was explained by an attorney for the Legislative Services Agency and Gaskill did not say who filed the amendment.

A spokesperson for Rokita released the following statement criticizing the policy in the amendment.

“This amendment does not affect the attorney general, however, this amendment is bad for voters and the taxpayers because it takes away their powers at a time when judicial institutions are being weaponized at all levels for political purposes. Deep state players, like backroom legislators, are taking the peoples’ power away and giving it to secret committees who are accountable to no one. The fact that the language is limited to an election year just shows that this is about politics and completely devoid of policy.”

The panel also approved two other bills:

  • House Bill 1264 passed 5-3. The bill creates new requirements for first-time voters, proof of citizenship and more. It also would allow state election officials to pay for commercially available data — likely Experian’s TrueTrace — and let county voter registration offices use the information for voter list maintenance. Supporters called it an election security bill while opponents said it adds unnecessary hoops for eligible voters.
  • House Bill 1133 passed 7-1. The proposal requires disclaimers on political campaign communications including fabricated media depicting a candidate that a reasonable person wouldn’t know was fake. The panel amended the bill to add federal candidates alongside state candidates.

All three bills now move to the full Senate.