Hillary Clinton’s characterization of Trump supporters as “deplorable” wasn’t a politically savvy move, but in the aftermath of the 2016 election, Republican officeholders have done their best to illustrate its accuracy.
Here in Indiana, where our last Attorney General was sanctioned by the Disciplinary Commission for groping female legislative staffers, the current occupant of that office is evidently campaigning for the title of most disgusting officeholder–and that’s the only campaign he should actually win.
I’ve previously posted about Rokita–several times, in fact. In 2013, when he was in Congress, I explained why he was more embarrassing than then-Governor Mike Pence. In 2014, I explained why he was dangerous and anti-American. (Also in 2014, I highlighted his comparison of himself to Earl Landgrebe, whose most famous quote, “Don’t confuse me with the facts. I’ve got a closed mind” was perhaps more telling than he had intended.) When he was elected AG, I posted a compendium of Rokita’s positions and suggested that Indiana had once again elected a guaranteed embarrassment to the position of Attorney General.
I also commented on disclosures that Rokita had retained his position with the health benefits firm he’d worked for prior to the election, even after he assumed his current, presumably full-time “day job” as Indiana’s Attorney General. A day job that coincidentally gave him investigative jurisdiction over that “other” job…(The publicity led to a resignation–but not to any evident recognition of why it was a problem…)
Most recently, I posted about Rokita’s despicable and unprofessional attacks on the Ob-Gyn who performed an abortion on the ten-year-old rape victim who traveled to Indiana because–after Dobbs— she could not legally obtain an abortion in Ohio.
I was gratified when the doctor’s lawyer served Rokita with a “cease and desist” letter, and followed it with a tort claim notice–a legal precursor to a defamation lawsuit. But I was especially pleased when Lauren Robel (a former dean of IU’s law school, former Bloomington provost and former Executive Vice President of Indiana University) filed a complaint with the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission against Rokita, accusing him of “recklessly” making claims that weren’t backed by fact.
Unlike Rokita, Robel is widely respected and admired. She readily admits that this is the only time in her 40 years as a lawyer and law professor that she has ever lodged a disciplinary complaint.
In Robel’s complaint, she argued Rokita failed to perform due diligence before making accusations about Bernard.
“What General Rokita did, in essence, was identify a private citizen whose political views he disagrees with and suggest repeatedly, on national television, and on the Attorney General’s official website, that she had broken the law, with no evidence to support those claims,” Robel wrote. “If he can throw the entire weight of his office without consequence to attack Dr. Bernard, he can do so to target any private citizen with whom he disagrees. This is the opposite of the rule of law.”
“It was also about as clear as it could be that he went after this doctor who was performing a legal medical procedure in Indiana because he opposes abortion, not because he had evidence against her of any sort,” Robel said. “The deputy for Stalin was reported to have said, ‘Show me the man and I’ll find the crime.’ That’s just not the way we do things in the United States.”
Robel’s request for an investigation came on the same day fourteen Indiana law professors sent a letter to Rokita, demanding he walk back his previous statements and issue a public apology to the doctor.
“You maintain the false statements, uncorrected even today, on your Webpage and on Twitter,” the law professors from Indiana University and University of Notre Dame wrote. “Your actions are inconsistent with your responsibilities as a lawyer and a prosecutor.”
Rokita’s office has responded that it has no plans to back down or correct the AG’s previous statements.
This isn’t about abortion. It is about attorney ethics–a subject that Rokita rather obviously has never encountered (and probably can’t spell). It is about respect for evidence and truth. It is about the abuse of power, and contempt for the most basic rules of legal practice that we expect an Attorney General to uphold.
Deplorable is the nicest description of Todd Rokita available. My own description would involve more profanity than is appropriate to include on this platform. He has zero redeeming characteristics.
He’s a disservice to the profession–and a blot on humanity.