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Indiana attorney general might have violated law with ad

August 13, 2018

Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill might have violated a state ethics law prohibiting officeholders from using their names in audio, video or newspaper ads paid for with state funds.

A new television ad promoting Hill's unclaimed property division includes text reading, "Office of Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill," the Times of Northwest Indiana reported.

State officeholders in Indiana can use their office title in connection with ads pertaining to official business, but they cannot use their names, according to the 2010 ethics statute.

The statute provides exceptions for a communication by the governor concerning public health or safety; or a communication related to a "compelling public policy" issue for which the State Budget Agency approves the spending on the recommendation of the State Budget Committee.

But State Budget Director Jason Dudich said Hill hasn't contacted him to authorize spending on any ad featuring the attorney general's name.

"They have not come before the Budget Committee in the year and a half that I've been there, and there's been no request directly to me, and none of my staff have brought anything to me at this point," Dudich said.

The ad asks viewers, "Know any Bobs?" and proceeds to point out that more than 26,700 people named Bob have unclaimed property listed on the indianaunclaimed.gov website.

The attorney general's office is working to take down the ads until the rules are reviewed, said Hill spokesman Chris Proffitt.

"If we determine that this ad is not in compliance in any manner, we will take appropriate corrective action to discontinue the ad and address our compliance protocols for such advertisement of government programs," Proffitt said.

The ads have aired as the state inspector general investigates allegations Hill groped a lawmaker and three legislative staffers in March. Hill denies the allegations amid calls to resign from the governor and legislative leaders.

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