Tag Archives: Curtis Hill

Oh, Indiana…

The #metoo movement has certainly caused a lot of discomfort for men who previously behaved badly, secure in the conviction that predatory behavior was their right as males.

Here in Indiana, we are seeing the shock of men who have suddenly realized that other people don’t view their activities with the benign “men will be boys and it’s always the girl’s fault anyway” attitudes they formerly depended upon.

Most widely publicized, of course, are the recent allegations against our Attorney General, Curtis Hill. Hill has continued to indignantly deny what everyone knows is true: he fondled/groped female legislators and staff at a bar during a sine die party.

Actually, that’s the least of Hill’s transgressions, in my opinion. I’m even more offended by the fact that he’s taken Indiana into a number of national “culture war” cases–on the wrong side–in which Hoosiers have no discernible interest. Such interventions expend state resources–human and fiscal–on causes where the only “benefit” is a higher profile for the Attorney General.

Hill’s grandstanding shouldn’t surprise us: Hill is something of a national joke as “the Elvis impersonating AG.” (I kid you not. Watch the You-Tube..) And of course, an African-American conservative Republican is something of an anomaly….

Less “snicker-worthy” is the effort led by Brian Bosma to down-play his sex-play.

Bosma’s relationship with a young woman who was a General Assembly intern at the time (she was a 20-year-old student at Ball State University; Bosma was a married 34-year-old representative) has been a staple of statehouse gossip for several years. Evidently triggered by concerns that the young woman was going to “go public,” Bosma hired a local attorney to “investigate” her–i.e., dig up dirt he could use against her if she did decide to talk.

That story and the ongoing Hill saga prompted calls for legal measures that would apply to members of the General Assembly. This being Indiana, those “calls” were essentially answered by none other than Brian Bosma (we don’t recognize conflicts of interest in Indiana), who as Speaker of the House appointed the personnel subcommittee of the Legislative Council, coincidentally, the subcommittee charged with recommending sexual harassment prevention policies.

The subcommittee met in a closed-door executive session Nov. 7 to finalize the proposed policy changes. I know it will shock Hoosier readers of this blog to learn that the policies they proposed were something less than ideal.

An Indiana employment law professor calls the proposed guidelines to combat sexual harassment at the Indiana Statehouse “shockingly dated” and designed to insulate lawmakers from liability.

“The proposal is grossly under-inclusive and arguably a waste of time and resources since the legislature could easily just affirm that all of its state employees, contractors, members, unpaid workers, interns, etc., are subject to federal and state law,” said Jennifer Drobac, a law professor at Indiana University’s Robert H. McKinney School of Law.

Drobac identified a few of the inadequacies of the proposals and the process that produced them.

Drobac questioned the wisdom of House Majority Leader Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, being involved in the process of revising the sexual harassment policies. An ethics complaint has been filed against him for using campaign funds to investigate a woman who said she had a sexual relationship with him in the early 1990s.

The proposed policy says that the speaker or other member of the ethics committee shall not participate in the review of a harassment claim if they are the subject of the complaint.

“However, what if they are the not the subject of the particular complaint but have conflicts of interest or a history of inappropriate (or ineffectual, i.e. failure to properly investigate) behavior,” she questioned.

The terms of these proposed guidelines aren’t the only “shockingly dated” attitudes being displayed by Bosma and the “boys” at the Statehouse. Someone needs to explain to them that a hate crimes law that omits protections for transgender Hoosiers (which is the version Bosma says he’ll allow) is tantamount to a message that crimes against some marginalized categories is okay with them….

What were those lyrics?

Back home again in Indiana…
And it seems that I can see
Our 18th Century legislature
Still staying pure
Through the sycamores for me




The Boys’ Club

Residents of Indiana who follow the news have come to know the state’s current Attorney General, Republican Curtis Hill, as an arrogant and self-important grand-stander– and an African-American version of his hero, Donald Trump.

In more ways than we previously appreciated, evidently.

Hill has been popular with culture warrior Republicans who voted for him and can thus reassure themselves that their anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, anti-social welfare positions aren’t racially motivated.

Since taking office, Hill has pursued a radically right-wing agenda; he has also spent an exorbitant amount of taxpayer dollars “upgrading” his office. Personnel turn-over since Hill assumed control of the AG’s office has been high, and has cost the state an estimated $3.6 million– suggesting a working environment that is less than collegial– and scuttlebutt is that he routinely pisses off his fellow office holders, Republican and Democrat alike.

Now, Hill is accused of groping four women–a state legislator and three staffers– at a legislative reception. According to one of them, as quoted in several media reports,

An intoxicated Hill put his hands on her back, slid them down her back, put them under her clothes and grabbed her buttocks, according to the memo. She told him to “back off” and walked away, but Hill approached her again later and again reached under her clothing and grabbed her. She again told him to “back off,” according to the memo.

I realize that this is not an unusual story in our era of #metoo. But then it gets interesting– and by “interesting,” I mean “infuriating.”

The party at which these events occurred was in March. Following the allegations, top legislators, including top Democrats, initiated an investigation. No information about the accusations or the subsequent investigation was communicated to female Democratic legislators, even those in leadership positions. The women lawmakers became aware of the allegations only when they became public, and they became public only because the Indianapolis Star obtained a leaked eight-page memo prepared by the law firm hired to investigate the allegations.

The legislative leaders–including two top male Democrats– issued a joint statement along the lines of “nothing to see here, let’s move along,” in which they agreed that an investigation had been completed and “the matter has been addressed with the Attorney General to the satisfaction of the employees involved.”

Really? From what I hear (admittedly, via the gossip grapevine) the “employees involved” are anything but satisfied. Meanwhile, the public remains in the dark about the nature of the “resolution.”

Hill, of course, indignantly denies everything, and I’m sure he’ll continue to deny engaging in inappropriate behavior, at least until other women come forward. (Let’s face it, if the #metoo movement has taught us anything, it’s that previously well-behaved men in their 50s don’t suddenly and inexplicably begin grabbing women’s buttocks.)

Tawdry and inappropriate behavior aside, here’s my question: Why did the legislative “boys club” close ranks ? I understand why Republican legislators would try to bury an embarrassing episode of gross behavior by one of their own, but why did two top Democratic legislators initially join them? Why weren’t Democratic women in leadership even informed of the allegations and investigations?

If anyone is wondering why so many women are running for political office, this sort of infuriating behavior by the “good old boys” of both parties might offer a clue.

In Washington, both male and female Republicans have demonstrated their willingness to put party above country. (And yes, Susan Brooks, we’re all looking at you.)

Here in Indianapolis, at least some male Democratic legislators are evidently willing to put gender above party. The camaraderie and mutual back-scratching of the good old boys’ club is evidently more important than a few affronted women–or even scoring political points.

After all, boys will be boys.



Pence’s Protege?

Yesterday’s New York Times highlighted an amicus brief filed by prominent Republicans in the  gerrymandering case that will be heard by the Supreme Court this session.

Current and former GOP luminaries– including John McCain of Arizona; Gov. John R. Kasich of Ohio; Bob Dole, the former Republican Senate leader from Kansas and the party’s 1996 presidential nominee; the former senators John C. Danforth of Missouri, Richard G. Lugar of Indiana and Alan K. Simpson of Wyoming; and Arnold Schwarzenegger, a former governor of California–urged the Court to end the partisan redistricting that “has become a tool for powerful interests to distort the democratic process.”

Then there’s Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill, who joined a very different “friend of the Court” brief, arguing that some partisanship is inevitable when legislators draw districts, there’s nothing “invidious” or improper about that reality, and even if there is, there’s no way for the Court to prove it.

So there!

Other than Hill, I have been pleasantly surprised by Indiana’s current Republican administration. Governor Holcomb seems eminently sane, and has focused on issues of governance–the “nitty-gritty” that Mike Pence ignored in favor of his crusades against Planned Parenthood, reproductive choice and gay people. Our current Superintendent of Public Instruction has actually demonstrated knowledge of and support for public education–a welcome change from the last Republican to hold that position.

Attorney General Hill is the exception. I knew nothing about him before his election, and not much more now, but his more newsworthy activities have been troubling, to say the least. It isn’t just his enthusiastic defense of gerrymandering–a position not universally shared even among Indiana Republicans. (The reform bill that failed in Indiana’s last legislative session was co-sponsored by Republican Representative Jerry Torr and Republican Speaker of the House Brian Bosma, both of whom evidently recognize that the process is pernicious.)

Hill has also clashed with the Centers for Disease Control over needle exchange programs. According to Indiana Public Media, Hill is accusing the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of manipulating facts in order to push a “pro-needle-exchange agenda.” Hill insists that needle exchange programs increase drug use, a claim that medical research has consistently debunked.

The new U.S. Surgeon General (and former Indiana Health Commissioner) Jerome Adams has been a vocal proponent of syringe exchanges.

“There’s been no evidence that [a syringe exchange program] increases drug use,” says Dennis Watson, a researcher at the Fairbanks School of Public Health. On the contrary, he says, exchange programs can actually decrease the amount of injection drug use…

A Seattle-based study found that syringe exchange participants were five times more likely to enter treatment than those who didn’t participate.

Perhaps Hill hasn’t had time to review evidence about gerrymandering or the results of needle exchange research, since–as the Indianapolis Star recently reported–he has been busy redecorating his offices.

Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on office renovations and a new state vehicle, sparking criticism from some budget leaders.

The renovations underway at Hill’s Statehouse office are expected to cost about $279,000. That includes $78,000 for new furniture, $71,000 for historic replica painting and $2,500 for seven reclaimed chandeliers. The six-room office is home to Hill and 10 to 15 of his top staffers.

Of course, Hill has found time to appeal rulings that favored Planned Parenthood, that protected the rights of LGBTQ citizens and that allowed police to pat down people to determine whether they’re carrying guns.He’s a perfect partisan culture warrior.

Mike Pence must be so proud…..