opinion

COLUMN: Impeach Attorney General Curtis Hill



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Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill. Tribune News Service Buy Photos

State Rep. Ed Delaney, D-Indianapolis, formally asked the House Judiciary Committee to investigate sexual misconduct allegations against state Attorney General Curtis Hill on Feb. 14. 

Delaney asked the Judiciary Committee to determine, based on the charges, whether the attorney general should stay in office.

The special prosecutor did not charge Hill with criminal wrongdoing, but the state inspector general’s report contains witness testimony that Hill inappropriately touched four women at a party. 

Although a special prosecutor cleared Hill of any criminal misconduct, Gov. Eric Holcomb and state Republican leaders called on Hill to resign. However, when pressed on the prospect of taking action to remove Hill from office, senate and house republicans backed off and said they would leave it up to Indiana’s voters in 2020.

Most recently, House Republicans rejected a bill proposed by one of Hill’s accusers, Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon, D-Munster, that would have established a commission capable of removing the attorney general from office.

The House Judiciary Committee should open up its own investigation into the allegations against Hill. If the committee finds Hill guilty of wrongdoing, it should begin impeachment proceedings.

This is wishful, if not unrealistic thinking given where state general assembly leaders stand. The Judiciary Committee will not open an impeachment investigation into the attorney general. Indiana Republicans have made that resoundingly clear. 

The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Jerry Torr, R-Carmel, said the misconduct occurred away from Indiana state property and was unrelated to Hill’s capacity as attorney general. Further, Torr said that the delegates at the 2020 state Republican convention, not impeachment, would decide Hill’s fate in office. 

Indiana Republican leaders are consciously deciding to leave a man who allegedly harassed four women, including an elected official, in office because it’s politically expedient. Instead of initiating impeachment proceedings based on the detailed inspector general’s report, state leaders are hiding behind the special prosecutor’s determination and waiting to see what the voters think. 

The special prosecutor declined to charge Hill because he felt it was too difficult to prove intent required for a battery charge. In contrast, the inspector general’s report called out Hill for his “creepy” behavior and abuse of power over female junior staffers. 

Hill won’t be impeached by the state House of Representatives, but he should be. Republicans will have to make clear in 2020 that they reject Hill. If not, Indiana will have to vote Hill out. 

Instead of just reiterating empty calls for Hill’s resignation, state Republicans should take action. Delaney’s motion offers Republicans that opportunity, but they refuse to take it. 

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