It took a while for Indiana’s Legislature to take action against embattled state Attorney General Curtis Hill.
Better late than never.
Ever since Hill embarrassed himself and our state two years ago by drunkenly groping four women at a party celebrating the end of the 2018 legislative session, Hoosiers have had to tolerate the specter of Hill holding the position of Indiana’s top legal officer. The credibility of the office with Hill in charge was damaged further when he attacked the integrity and honesty of his accusers.
The Legislature has been tentative in its approach to the matter, despite calls for Hill to resign from top state leaders and fellow Republicans, including Gov. Eric Holcomb and retiring House Speaker Brian Bosma. Hill was not charged with any crime and has maintained he did nothing wrong.
A disciplinary hearing that culminated with former state Supreme Court Justice Myra Selby recommending a 60-day suspension of Hill’s law license has bolstered lawmakers’ willingness to deal with Hill. Selby said Hill’s conduct was “offensive, invasive, damaging and embarrassing” to the women, one of whom is a state legislator from northwest Indiana. The Supreme Court will make the final determination on disciplinary action in coming months.
Early last week, an amendment to an election-related bill in the House of Representatives called for an attorney general who is disbarred or suspended from practicing law for 30 or more days to forfeit the office and not be able to seek immediate reelection. The governor would then fill the vacancy.
The state Supreme Court is expected to take action soon. Republican Party leaders fear that if Hill, who is seeking reelection, wins the party’s nomination at the GOP state convention this summer, he would be vulnerable to defeat by a Democratic challenger this fall.
Hill’s potential presence on the Republican Party ballot is certainly a concern. But his continued presence in the Attorney General’s office is a far bigger problem. Hoosiers should be represented by an attorney general who is credible and beyond reproach.
The legislative proposal passed the House by an overwhelming margin and now goes to the Senate for consideration. If it passes, it would prevent Hill from serving any longer or from seeking reelection this year if the Supreme Court suspends his law license for 30 days or more.
There is reason to quibble over the lateness of this amendment in the session and the lack of time for hearings and debate. But the proposal is simple and straightforward. What’s more, it serves an immediate and urgent need. We encourage the Senate to concur and move the matter swiftly to the governor’s desk for approval.
Tribune-Star, Terre Haute