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4 GOP candidates for Indiana attorney general speak at convention

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — “Look. I’m not perfect. No one is.”

Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill Jr. spoke those words Thursday night to delegates of the Indiana Republican Convention about allegations he inappropriately touched a state representative and three legislative staffers during a March 2018 party to mark the end of the legislative session. The four women were ages 23 to 26 when they say they were groped at a party at AJ’s Lounge on South Meridian Street.

A special prosecutor declined to file criminal charges against Hill, but the Indiana Supreme Court on May 18 suspended Hill’s law license for 30 days, ending this week, after finding he’d violated professional conduct rules. Hill appointed an acting attorney general to serve during his license suspension.

Hill took office in 2017 and wants to run again. Republicans on Thursday heard recorded messages from four candidates — incubent Hill, Decatur County Prosecutor Nate Harter, former U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita, and Indianapolis attorney John Westercamp — for the attorney general nomination. Convention delegates will submit ballots, and their choice will be announced July 10.

Among the speeches from Hill’s three opponents, Rokita’s was the only one to mention Hill by name while questioning the incumbent’s chances to continue in his current job.

“Curtis Hill has put himself ahead of his elected office and our values because of his bad judgment. Not just on one night, but in a long pattern of inappropriate behavior,” Rokita said. “Personal responsibility is saying you’re sorry when you fail others, taking ownership of your mistakes. … Ignoring that and blaming others, that’s not conservative. That’s what liberals do. He is not a martyr. We are the ones being railroaded, and our conservative gains will fall victim when we lose in November.”

Rokita also told fellow Republicans that Democrats will spend millions of dollars in “damning in truth” advertising that will ensure “every November voter knows that our Supreme Court unanimously took away Curtis Hill’s law license because it found he committed criminal battery.”

The court’s decision “was not some Pelosi impeachment clown show,” Rokita added. “This was the highest court in our state — five impartial, conservative judges — condemning our attorney general’s behavior. This messaging against Hill will be so intense we will not only lose the attorney general’s office, but we’ll lose other elections including local races that we care about.”

He also criticized Hill for having a skyrocketing budget, including spending on “office furniture, cars, satellite offices, even chandeliers.”

In his speech, Hill said, “Over these past two years, I have been the subject of relentless attacks and smears the like of which few have endured. Some Republicans, who seem too afraid to fight for what is right, are following the Democrat strategy to question my ability to win in November.

“Look. I’m not perfect. No one is.

“But like President Trump, I have faced accusations and investigations designed to destroy me politically.

“Like President Trump, I am a threat to Democrats and their radical liberal agenda.

“Both President Trump and I are ‘wounded’ some would say. And, yes, we are both warriors with battle scars.”

Hill listed some achievements: recovering 2,411 abandoned remains of aborted fetuses, defending the right to restrict abortions, and supporting the Second Amendment right to bear arms.

“But I have grown stronger and wiser from every experience — and with the help and support of my fellow Hoosiers, I have compiled a record of achievements that cannot be ignored,” Hill said.

Like the other candidates, Harter pointed to his conservative credentials and promised protection of life and guns. He also described how he brought up his record in office which includes successful prosecutions of both a police chief and prosecutor for wrongdoing.

“My time as prosecuting attorney has prepared me to be an effective executive, developing a workplace culture built on respect and teamwork,” Harter said.

Westercamp pointed to his credentials in the private sector as an attorney in Indianapolis in making his case. He had more to say about Hill’s spending on satellite offices and other expenses than directly addressing the conduct violations.

“I’m not running because I’m looking for my next political job or to continue a career in politics. I’m not running because of any other candidate. I’m running because I have a vision and plan to make the office of the attorney general more efficient, effective and transparent,” Westercamp said.

Almost 1,800 delegates will be getting ballots in the mail for the attorney general’s office starting next week. They will be counted and a winner announced on July 10. The winner will face Democratic attorney general candidate Jonathan Weinzapfel in November.

Thursday’s convention was aired on WISH-TV and other TV stations across Indiana. A replay is available on the WISH-TV Facebook page.