Ex Post Facto Rokita

The Indiana Citizen is among a variety of sources trying to fill the void left by Indianapolis’ “ghost newspaper,” the Indianapolis Star. Unlike several other such efforts, the Citizen doesn’t purport to be a digital newspaper-it’s a nonpartisan, non-profit platform “dedicated to increasing the number of informed, engaged Hoosier citizens.” Its creator, Bill Moreau, was focused on increasing informed voter turnout.

Of course, any effort to educate/motivate Hoosier voters requires coverage of the public servants (talk about a quaint phrase!) who are likely to be asking for those votes, and the Citizen is accordingly a valuable and non-biased source of such information. (If you live in Indiana and don’t already visit the site, you should.)

All this is by way of highlighting a recent report by the Citizen on our sleazy Attorney General, Todd Rokita, about whom I have previously posted numerous times. (If you type “Rokita” in the search bar, a number of posts will emerge–too many to link to.)

The Indianapolis woman trying to see the ethics opinion about Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita’s previous moonlighting gig claims a last-minute legislative maneuver “engineered by Rokita and his confederates” intrudes on judicial authority in violation of the Indiana Constitution.

Barbara Tully made her arguments in a response to the attorney general’s attempt to keep private an informal advisory opinion from the Indiana Inspector General. Rokita requested the opinion shortly after he became attorney general, apparently to see if he could ethically perform his duties for the state while continuing to hold his job in the private sector with Apex Benefits.

His office claimed the inspector general found no ethical conflicts but refused to release the advisory opinion. After the Marion County Superior Court ordered in January that a copy of the opinion be given to Tully, Rokita was able to amend the inspector general statute making such opinions confidential, including those issued before the amended statute took effect.

He has since turned to the Court of Appeals of Indiana, filing Theodore Edward Rokita v. Barbara Tully, 323A-PL-705, and argued, in part, that Tully’s lawsuit is now moot under the new law. Tully counters Rokita is usurping the separation of powers clause in Article 3, Section 1 of the Indiana Constitution.

“This type of gamesmanship by a member of the executive branch to involve the legislative branch in judicial branch affairs violates the constitutionally-mandated separation of powers,” Tully asserts in her brief filed Wednesday. “This Court should decide this appeal based on the facts and law as they existed when the trial court entered its final judgment in favor of Tully.”

There is no suggestion that Tully is raising the issue of “ex post facto” laws; the posture of the case probably precludes that argument. Nevertheless, I couldn’t help thinking that Rokita’s efforts to hide that ethics document are inappropriate for much the same reason that the Founders made “ex post facto” laws unconstitutional.

If I can simply disadvantage a litigation opponent by using the power of my office to change the rules mid-stream, I make a mockery of the rule of law. As Tully argues in her brief,

This type of manipulation of the legislative process at the very least should diminish the normal presumption of constitutionality,” Tully asserts. “The apparent purpose of this amendment was to invalidate Tully’s judgment under (the Access to Public Records Act) without bothering to comply with normal legislative formalities and should warrant heightened judicial scrutiny ….

The article in the Citizen explains several of the legal arguments raised in the suit, but for non-lawyers, Rokita’s frenzied effort to keep the ethics opinion secret raises a more obvious question: what’s he so desperate to hide?

Back in 2021, I posted about the discovery that Rokita was still employed by the health benefits firm he’d worked for prior to assuming office, notwithstanding the fact that  being an AG is a 24-hour-a-day job–and the fact that as AG, he had investigative jurisdiction over his “other” employer…

Aside from that obvious conflict of interest, there was another small problem: Rokita’s dual employment violated even Indiana’s weak ethics law. (You’d think a lawyer–especially the state’s lawyer–might have noticed that.)

Indiana’s Ghost Employment Rule —found at 42 IAC 1-5-13–is summarized by the office of the Inspector General as follows: “Don’t work on anything outside your official job duties.”

So what could have been in that Ethics opinion Rokita has consistently and adamantly refused to make public?

Interestingly, after telling reporters that he’d obtained a letter from the then-Inspector General opining that his conduct somehow didn’t violate Indiana’s ethics law, Rokita hired that same Inspector General into a senior (and presumably well-compensated) position with the Attorney General’s office.

Nothing to see here, folks. Move along.

Or read the Indiana Citizen.


  1. I read the Indiana Citizen . rokita reminds me of the crap that DeSantis has done in Florida. Don’t like the rules, change them. He didn’t want to resign as governor to run for president, so he got his cohorts to change that rule/law. What a piece of dung! Unfortunately, I like the winter weather in Florida compared to Northern Indiana.

  2. I hope Destiny Wells (as rumored) puts an end to Rokita’s day job at the State House.

  3. “Ethics? We don’t need no stinkin’ ethics” – Todd Rokita, and the SCOTUS.
    Once you own the courts, nobody can do anything to stop you from doing whatever you want.
    The creeps are coming out of the woodwork. Rokita, Morales, Santos, and the rest, all cut from the same cloth.
    Aside from voting, what can a normal citizen do about it?

  4. The judicial system in Indiana and Washington, D.C. is widely mistrusted due to lawyers’ manipulation of judges. Rokita, a lawyer with an inflated ego, should have his degree examined by Tully. Unfortunately, the corruption doesn’t stop there. Even real journalism is hindered by those in power who use taxpayer money to play games. I know this from personal experience trying to correct wrongful actions by government officials at Muncie Voice. I’m still working on a fraud case involving unscrupulous lawyers and judges in Delaware County. Nobody, including the FBI, wants to touch it, because the lawyers were also public defenders (these lawyers were drunk and drugged while serving clients). Their licenses were finally suspended by the Indiana Supreme Court, but I think their cases should be reviewed. How many citizens got screwed because their lawyer was stoned?

    Sadly, the judicial system in America is just another corrupt institution where people don’t believe they’ll receive a fair trial unless they have large sums of money. The Clarence Thomas quid pro quo is not an isolated incident; it’s a clear example of how the game is rigged.

  5. I always was taught that roaches were hard to evict. Easy peasy compared to Republicans. Their acolytes applaud their adaptation to avoid extinction.

  6. Re: Indiana Citizen

    HOLY COW – I sent an email today (as I was reminded about the Citizen by this post)to Indiana Citizen asking if they had done any follow up re: Diego Morales and the car he bought with campaign funds. The Star reported the story (I saw) originally and Morales claimed he intended to sell the car and reimburse the campaign because buying was cheaper than renting.

    I had assumed, based on who Morales seems to be as a person, that he just kept the car but The Star hadn’t posted a follow up story and the reporter who posted the story originally seems to be gone (shocker). 20 minutes after emailing the question to the Citizen I got a response. I now know his campaign still has the car and is still charging gas/maintenance to the campaign.

    Way to go Marilyn Odendahl | interim editor! I think I need to subscribe.

  7. Having been in total control for so long, it seems that both Florida and Indiana are mini authoritarian states. They aren’t alone, but they are the two of most concern to those who generally comment on this blog. We need to find a way to break the habit of that third of citizens who either don’t care (the peasant in the rice field) or those who have given up on their ability to effect change that we have to work together to make changes. Policies matter, even if you can’t see it immediately. Immediate gratification shouldn’t be the goal of good governance.

  8. Just checked out the Indiana Citizen. It’s terrific! Thanks for the tip, Sheila.

  9. I have subscribed to the Indiana Citizen for some time now. They are doing an excellent job of reporting the machinations of our stellar legislature and the current administration, such as it is. They even inject a sense of humor at appropriate intervals because we all know the shenanigans played out under the capitol dome are often laughable at best. Do yourself a favor and check it out.

  10. A cynical moment early in the week…wanna bet that a substantial percent of the readers of the Indiana Citizen are already pretty concerned and reasonably informed about the shenanigans of the state. So…it likely changes very little except to make you feel better…

  11. The constitutional prohibition technically on ex post facto laws, do believe just applies to criminal laws. Legislatures can pass ex post facto non-criminal laws, though there is a strong judicial presumption to not apply those laws retroactively.

    I’m sorry…but that opinion is a public record. The same reason as to why government can’t enter into secret out-of-court settlements applies here.

  12. This is the same AG that requires all of his employees to sign a non-disclosure agreement that gags them during and after employment.

    Nothing to see here folks….

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