With state Republican leaders joining Democrats in calls for Attorney General Curtis Hill to resign, a Democratic state lawmaker says he will push for impeachment if Hill doesn’t step down.
Hill has been accused of groping several women, including a state lawmaker, at a bar after the session ended in March.
Gov. Eric Holcomb, House Speaker Brian Bosma, Senate Pro Tem David Long and other GOP office holders, including Secretary of State Connie Lawson and Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch, on Thursday night called on Hill to resign. Others, including Indiana Democratic Party Chairman John Zody, had called for his resignation shortly after The Indianapolis Star broke news of the scandal Monday night.
The Indiana Black Legislative Caucus released a statement Friday morning also calling for Hill to apologize for his conduct and to resign.
Indiana Rep. Ed DeLaney, D-Indianapolis, told IBJ on Friday morning that if Hill doesn’t step down, impeachment is inevitable.
“Even his own party says he’s not fit to be in the office,” DeLaney said. “There will have to be an impeachment.”
As of Tuesday, Hill said he wasn’t going anywhere. He hasn’t commented publicly since then. Indiana does not allow state and local officials to be removed in a recall vote, but the state legislature can impeach elected officials.
But DeLaney said state statute isn’t exactly clear about the impeachment process, and it’s never been done, so he’s carefully examining the statute and looking at states with similar language to determine the appropriate action.
“These things have not been tried out,” DeLaney said. “People generally get the message and depart.”
Bosma has not said whether impeachment is an option he’s considering, and if so, how long he would wait. DeLaney said “a few days seems reasonable.”
But with or without Republican support, DeLaney said he will push for impeachment.
“I prefer to push with some support from the other side of the aisle,” DeLaney said. “The public doesn’t need a months long war over the fate of Curtis Hill.”
The sexual harassment accusations were first reported Monday evening after The Indianapolis Star obtained an eight-page confidential memo prepared by Indianapolis law firm Taft Stettinius & Hollister for legislative leaders.
The memo says that a state lawmaker and three legislative staffers told Republican leaders in May that Hill inappropriately touched them at a party in the early morning hours of March 15, shortly after Indiana's legislative session came to a close.
Bosma, Long and top staff members for them conducted an investigation in May and interviewed women who attended the party at AJ’s Lounge.
The lawmaker said 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.
Comments from other female legislative employees that are included in the memo accuse Hill of suggesting they “show a little skin” or more leg to get free drinks or faster service at the bar.
The memo from Taft, dated June 18, says that Hill's alleged conduct toward the legislative employees may have been "inappropriate," but was "likely not severe or pervasive enough to result in a hostile work environment." However, the firm found that Hill's conduct toward the lawmaker was "likely egregious enough to meet the threshold of 'severe.'"
The report recommended that legislative leaders discuss the allegations with Hill, even though they were under no legal obligation to do so. Hill was not interviewed as part of the internal investigation.
The top Republicans did not talk to Hill about the allegations until 11 days after the memo from Taft and after reporters from The Indianapolis Star started asking questions.
Hill, who has been considered a rising star in the Republican Party and is a married staunch social conservative, has said the allegations are “deeply troubling.”
Hill has also said the lack of due process is concerning because he never saw the report and was never interviewed for the investigation.
If the impeachment process were to move forward, DeLaney said it would be similar to the process in Congress, with the Senate conducting a trial, which would allow Hill to share his side of the story.
But DeLaney hopes Hill resigns before an impeachment is necessary.
“I’m hoping he’ll do the right thing,” DeLaney said. “It’s the only real choice, but he may not take that choice.”