Tag Archives: Todd Rokita

Someone To Blame

One of the most memorable scenes from any movie I’ve seen was one that occurred toward the conclusion of the 1995 film An American President. During a press conference, the current President (played by Michael Douglas) calls out his opponent–an eerily pre-MAGA character named Bob Rumson–by saying

We have serious problems to solve, and we need serious people to solve them. And whatever your particular problem is, I promise you Bob Rumson is not the least bit interested in solving it. He is interested in two things, and two things only: making you afraid of it, and telling you who’s to blame for it. That, ladies and gentlemen, is how you win elections. You gather a group of middle age, middle class, middle income voters who remember with longing an easier time, and you talk to them about family, and American values and character…

That scene is a vivid example of the way in which art–in this case, film–can illuminate life. Nearly 30 years later, the scene seems eerily prescient. 

In the movie, it was Bob Rumson. Today, it’s Elon Musk.

After Musk purchased Twitter– now renamed X– expressions of bigotry and anti-Semitism on the site increased significantly. Thanks to Musk’s chaotic administration, the number of advertisers and users had already been steadily dwindling, but advertiser departures exploded last week, after Musk endorsed a post blaming “Jewish communities” for pushing “dialectical hatred against whites” and promoting the white supremacist conspiracy theory that “western Jewish populations” are behind the “flooding” of countries with “hordes of minorities.”

Musk tweeted “You have said the actual truth.” 

As a result, a stream of prominent brands halted their advertising. The departures included Disney, Paramount, NBCUniversal, Comcast, Lionsgate and Warner Bros. Discovery, the parent of CNN. Rather than responding to the exodus by apologizing, or by vowing to improve content mediation, Musk doubled down, blaming the Anti-Defamation League–and the Jews–for the platform’s problems and its greatly diminished value.

In true Trump fashion, Musk has sued Media Matters for reporting that company ads often appeared next to anti-Semitic content, asserting that the organization had somehow falsified the data. And Musk is threatening to sue the Anti-Defamation League, for daring to publish research documenting a striking increase in hate on the platform since Musk took it over.

Elon Musk issued a series of statements in which he has blamed secret manipulation by a Jewish organization for the destruction of the X platform, which was once called Twitter. Saying the Anti-Defamation League was the “primary” reason for falling ad revenue at X, Musk first threatened, then later seemed to promise to sue for damages.

That’s right. After months in which Musk has supported racist rants; encouraged hate speech; elevated literal Nazi propaganda; fired every Twitter employee in Brazil on suspicion of being too liberal; fired the entire company press office and the entire company communications department; decimated the team responsible for content moderation; terrified advertisers with chaos, irresponsibility, and perpetuating racism; and thrown away global brand recognition by renaming the whole platform to indulge a personal whim, Musk has put his finger on the real issue.

It’s the Jews.

Shades of Bob Rumson…

Permit me to suggest that the “real issue” with Twitter/X is a man-child with way too much money and an ego that won’t permit him to admit his own inadequacies and mistakes. 

Mmm…sounds familiar.

When you think about it, that clip from An American President applies far more widely than to Musk. It perfectly describes not just Trump, but most contemporary Republican candidates and officeholders. Today’s GOP policy-free “platform” can be entirely summed up by those same two strategies: playing on voters’ fears, and telling those voters who they should blame for whatever troubles them–immigrants, Jews, Blacks. It’s what MAGA is all about.

In Indiana, it’s the modus operandi of posturing incompetents like Todd Rokita, Mike Braun and Jim Banks. 

I guess next year we’ll see if that’s really the way to win elections…..it sure doesn’t seem to be the way to manage a successful social media platform…







Rokita Again…

A week or so ago, a reader sent me a private message about a “thin blue line” flag he’d seen displayed in a window of the Indiana Statehouse. It concerned him, because he was aware that the flag was associated with the White Supremacy movement.

I was totally unaware of the flag’s message or existence, so I consulted Google.

According to Wikipedia, “The thin blue line US flag has appeared regularly at Trump rallies. The flag, which ostensibly stands for solidarity with the police, appeared as well at the January 6 United States Capitol attack, during which police officers were beaten and attacked by the mob of Trump supporters and far right extremists.”

Police departments in Madison, Wisconsin and Los Angeles, California have banned police display of the flag because of its associations with views described as “undemocratic, racist, and bigoted.”

According to the Los Angeles Times,

For some, the “thin blue line” flag is an expression of solidarity with police officers who have lost their lives on the job.

To others, the black-and-white American flag with a single blue stripe is a potent symbol of the ties between right-wing extremism and American law enforcement.

The tension between those irreconcilable interpretations spilled over in the Los Angeles Police Department this month, when Chief Michel Moore ordered the flag, which was widely displayed in station lobbies around the city, to be removed from public view….

In a department-wide email, Moore said the flag’s original meaning of support for police had been overshadowed when it began appearing at rallies for the Proud Boys and other far-right extremist groups.

“It’s unfortunate that extremist groups have hijacked the use of the ‘Thin Blue Line Flag’ to symbolize their undemocratic, racist, and bigoted views. Flags serve as powerful symbols with specific meanings,” he wrote, adding that officers would still be allowed to display the flag in their personal work spaces, lockers and personal vehicles

My correspondent’s knowledge of the contested meaning of the flag led him to do some further digging; after attending a downtown meeting, he visited the Statehouse in an effort to determine just whose office was responsible for the display. He learned that–as you have probably guessed from the title of this post– the office was that of Indiana’s Attorney General, Todd Rokita.

That would be the same Todd Rokita who has consistently pandered to the GOP’s extreme Right, the Todd Rokita who has enthusiastically repeated his endorsement of indicted former President Trump, and thrown the weight of his office behind anti-abortion extremists– the same Todd Rokita who has now been charged by an Indiana judicial watchdog with violating professional conduct rules while conducting his unhinged vendetta against the Indiana University doctor who performed an abortion on a 10-year-old rape victim from Ohio.

The complaint against Rokita was filed by the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission–not by a partisan political body. (Rokita is currently paying the  outside lawyers defending him against those charges with our tax dollars.)

Is it possible that Rokita was unaware that the “blue lives matter” flag had been hijacked by White Supremacists? Sure. (Rokita isn’t known for doing meticulous research.) But even giving him the benefit of that doubt, display of the flag is problematic. It originated in response to the multiple demonstrations organized by Black Lives Matter following the murder of George Floyd, and even at the beginning was widely seen as a criticism of Black activism and support for “active” policing tactics.

Purposeful display of that flag thus sends a message to Black Hoosiers about the loyalties of their state’s Attorney General, who is supposed to serve the interests of all of the citizens of Indiana without favoritism or bias.

The office is supposed to represent the state in cases involving the state’s interest, provide legal defense to state officials or agencies in court, and provide formal advisory opinions on constitutional or legal questions to state officials. 

Rokita has used it to wage culture war.

He regularly joins with other Republican AGs in national, highly partisan cases that do not involve Indiana, and he is currently fighting to keep an ethics opinion involving his own “side” employment secret. His persistent, unwarranted attacks against the doctor who aborted a ten-year-old who’d been viciously raped–a doctor who’d followed all applicable laws–is beyond disgusting.

Given what we know of Rokita and his ambitions, I’d be willing to bet that he knew about the White Nationalist associations of that flag, but even if he didn’t, its display is a highly inappropriate signal of where his partialities lie.

I don’t know who the Democrats will run against him, but that person already has my vote–and deserves yours. Rokita needs to go.

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.








I Rest My Case

Okay-I probably won’t really “rest my case” so long as Indiana lawmakers continue to prove my point–but I thought I’d give readers a smattering of information about the government produced by Indiana’s gerrymandering. 

First up: we’ve recently learned that Indiana State Rep. Jim Lucas will offer an amendment to the state budget bill–and it’s a doozy. Lucas wants to provide a $2000 tax credit for any Hoosier citizen who purchases an automatic or semi-automatic gun in the next two years.

You read that right. At a time when the proliferation of weapons more suited to war is facilitating daily mass shootings, Lucas wants to encourage people to add to their arsenals. 

Our daughter occasionally looks at Lucas’ Facebook page, and reports that it’s a fetid swamp of racism, anti-Semitism, pro-Trump conspiracies and–of course–“Second Amendment” devotion. Lucas was quoted defending his proposal by saying

“I am very concerned about the safety of our Hoosier families during this next national election period”, said Rep Lucas. “In a circular logic that makes perfect sense to me, our system of elections is breaking down and every citizen needs to be prepared to defend themself from the angry, armed mobs I anticipate we will see”, Rep Lucas said.

Indiana doesn’t keep all of its wacko extremists in the General Assembly; we send more than our share of theocrats and culture warriors to Washington. I’ve mentioned Jim Banks before; currently representing Hoosiers in the House, Banks now intends to run for the Senate seat being vacated by yet another culture warrior, Mike Braun, who wants to be Governor. 

Banks recently emphasized his anti-choice credentials in a radio interview.

Hoosier congressman seeking to represent Indiana in the U.S. Senate is expressing support for reducing abortion options in other states.

During an interview on Fort Wayne’s WOWO-AM radio, U.S. Rep. Jim Banks, R-Columbia City, responded favorably Thursday to a suggestion by host Pat Miller that more needs to be done to restrict abortion in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 24, 2022, Dobbs decision repealing the right to abortion established in 1973 by Roe v. Wade.

“Our work as a pro-life movement is far from over,” Miller said. “If a young lady can hop in a car in Fort Wayne and in an hour and a half she can be in a place in Michigan, or in just under three hours she can cross the line into Illinois, and achieve what she was (un)able to do with abortion clinics here in Indiana, the fight is far from over.”

Banks subsequently denied that he wants to impose travel restrictions on Indiana citizens (someone who had actually read the Constitution evidently pointed out that such a restriction would likely be struck down), but re-affirmed his support for a national ban modeled on the one passed by Indiana’s legislature, currently embroiled in a challenge pending  before Indiana’s Supreme Court.

Banks has been busy in the House of Representatives.  According to State Affairs,  Banks recently formed the “anti-woke” caucus.

Earlier this month, he formed the “anti-woke caucus,” explaining at the Claremont Institute, “This utterly un-American doctrine would be comical were it not so powerful and it is powerful because it is enforced not only by every major national institution. It is promoted and funded by the federal government itself.”

Shades of Ron DeSantis…

Then of course, there’s the ongoing saga of Todd Rokita, Indiana’s current Attorney General, who is positively frantic to prove that no one can outdo him when it comes to pandering to the deplorables. I’ve previously posted about Rokita’s tenuous connection to ethics, conclusions that have recently been corroborated by a court decision confirming that his constant PR efforts violate Indiana law.

Rokita has been in the news most recently for his vendetta against the Indiana doctor who performed an abortion on the ten-year-old rape victim from Ohio.  He also made news by defending Kanye West,after West’s anti-Semitic comments hit the news, tweeting

“The constant hypocrisy from the media is at an all-time high. They have now gone after Kanye for his new fashion line, his independent thinking, & for having opposing thoughts from the norm of Hollywood.”

I could probably devote several other posts to Rokita, but he is so widely despised (even by members of his own party) that it hardly seems worth the trouble.

I don’t for a minute think these extremists represent the average Hoosier, but thanks to the GOP’s chokehold on Indiana elections, they’re what we get.

I’ll just end with a great quote from comic Jim Gaffigan.  

“I’m from Indiana… In Indiana it’s not like New York where everyone’s like, ‘We’re from New York and we’re the best’ or ‘We’re from Texas and we like things big’ it’s more like ‘We’re from Indiana and we’re gonna move.’”  


How To Rig A Vote

You really have to admire the chutzpah of so many Republican candidates, who are saying– presumably with straight faces–that if they win their contests, the election was free and fair, but if they lose, it was rigged.

I guess that’s how you tell whether an election was fair: if you win. Somehow, I find that less than persuasive…..

The GOP has been working to undermine public confidence in election results for years–in Indiana, when loathsome Todd Rokita was Secretary of State, he ushered in the nation’s first voter ID law. Whatever you think of these laws–and I’ve not been shy about my own analysis–they send a message to voters: some people are casting fraudulent votes, so maybe the election results shouldn’t be trusted. Doubts persist despite the fact that numerous studies have determined that in-person vote fraud is vanishingly rare.

Trump’s “big lie” magnified accusations of impropriety, and in a perfect demonstration of projection (accusing the other guy of your own misdeeds),  GOP candidates running for state offices with responsibilities for vote administration have all but trumpeted (sorry!) their intent to show Americans what rigging an election really looks like.

A report from the Washington Post focused on the threat, but the Post is far from the only media outlet sounding the warning.

In many states, the secretary of state is the chief elections official. It’s a crucial job, but not one that many Americans have heard of, much less paid attention to.

But secretary of state races are starting to get a lot more national attention and money. Former president Donald Trump and his allies have succeeded in boosting 2020 election deniers as candidates this primary season, and in many states, they’ve won the Republican nomination. That means, by next year, election deniers could be in charge of their states’ elections, including in key swing states for the 2024 presidential race.

Actually, as the article properly notes, it’s really hard to rig a national election in America because our election oversight is so decentralized. (That may be one of the very few virtues of state-level authority over the election process.) That said, there are “ways rogue secretaries of state could use their powers to throw a wrench in elections.”

They can follow Rokita’s example, and make it harder for people to cast ballots. Or they can change the procedures governing how votes are counted — like tightening restrictions on when mail-in ballots can arrive or what signatures are accepted.

They can also authorize endless audits and recounts.

There’s nothing wrong with checking results if there’s a dispute, said Trey Grayson, a former Republican secretary of state in Kentucky. But he and other election experts stress that endless audits don’t instill confidence in the democratic process; instead they allow bad actors to try to raise endless questions.

Rogue Secretaries of State can refuse to sign off on election results they don’t like, as a couple of officials did recently in New Mexico. At the very least, election-denying secretaries of state could publicly question election results, further eroding voter confidence and giving election deniers an air of legitimacy.

If enough election deniers get into office in time for the 2024 presidential election, experts worry they could together create enough chaos and confusion that they would weaken Americans’ faith in their government’s ability to hold free and fair elections.

The article identifies the states in which election deniers are currently running for positions that oversee elections. Indiana is one of them. Nevada, Arizona, Florida, New Mexico, Minnesota, Michigan, Vermont, Maine and Connecticut are others. Obviously, in some of those states the denialist is unlikely to win–but in deep red states like Indiana, where few voters are even aware of who’s running in down ballot races, and where majorities routinely vote for anyone with an “R” by their name, there is a real likelihood that these conspiracy theorists will win.

A columnist for the Indianapolis Star called Diego Morales–the Republican candidate for Secretary of State–“broadly unacceptable” for a number of reasons. I absolutely agree–but I wonder how many Hoosier voters know what a Secretary of State does, let alone who is running for the office.

A few weeks ago, I urged readers to support Destiny Wells, the truly impressive Democrat running for Secretary of State. I’ll just repeat how I ended that post: It’s bad enough to live in a state governed by people who want to arm the entire population (okay, to be fair, just the White part), make LGBTQ+ folks second-class citizens, control women’s bodies, and make it easier for a pandemic to kill you. The last thing we need is a nutcase “Big Lie” proponent overseeing our elections.

Just Vote Blue No Matter Who……up and down the ballot.