Indiana Chamber of Commerce CEO Kevin Brinegar on Monday suggested making the position of state attorney general appointed instead of elected, but top lawmakers aren’t sold on the idea.
Brinegar mentioned the idea while discussing the chamber’s legislative priorities for the upcoming session, a list that includes accelerating the effective date for switching the position of state superintendent of public instruction from elected to appointed from 2025 to 2021.
When asked about the potential to make the office of attorney general an appointed position, Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma replied, “Awkward.”
Indiana’s current attorney general, Curtis Hill, has come under fire this year after several women accused him of inappropriately touching them at a party following the last legislative session.
Gov. Eric Holcomb and other elected leaders, including Bosma, have called on Hill to resign.
The report from the Inspector General’s office following an investigation into the accusations detailed drunken and inappropriate behavior from Hill that made him the “talk of the bar” that night. A special prosecutor assigned to the matter concluded late last month that the women were telling the truth, but there was not enough evidence to pursue criminal charges against Hill.
Hill has denied the allegations and has refused calls to resign. In a statement issued Monday afternoon, Hill opposed the idea of making the office appointed.
“There’s a good reason that 43 of America’s 50 states have attorneys general who are elected by the people. Namely, we have a rich tradition in our democratic republic of respecting the people’s wisdom in choosing their leaders," Hill said in the statement. "There will always be those who prefer to concentrate the levers of government in the hands of a powerful few, but I believe most Hoosiers value the freedom of electing their public servants by casting ballots.”
Bosma said given the current circumstances, the proposal to switch the office to appointed probably would not be received well.
“Worthy of discussion,” Bosma said. “I don’t know if now’s the time.”
Republican Senate Majority Floor Leader Mark Messmer of Jasper said he doesn’t think the idea will gain traction right now, either.
“It’s an issue that at some point down the road could be considered, but it probably won’t happen right now,” Messmer said.
Lawmakers could also pursue an impeachment of Hill, but Republican leaders don’t think that’s likely.
“I think this would be an unneeded distraction,” Bosma said.
Messmer said given that criminal charges were not filed, he doesn’t see the potential for any legislative action to force Hill out.
“Leave it up to the voters next election cycle,” Messmer said.