Lawmakers to debate bill change that could determine whether AG Hill stays in office

Curtis Hill
Curtis Hill

The Republican-controlled Indiana House on Monday afternoon is expected to consider an amendment to a bill that would force Attorney General Curtis Hill out of office if he loses his law license or is suspended from office for 30 days or more.

The move comes in response to questions over whether Hill can remain as the state government’s top lawyer if his law license is suspended over allegations that he drunkenly groped four women at a bar in 2018.

Former state Supreme Court Justice Myra Selby presided over a four-day disciplinary trial for Hill and has recommended that the Indiana Supreme Court suspend Hill’s license for at least 60 days without automatic reinstatement.

Republican leaders have said it’s unclear whether Hill could remain in office if the Supreme Court—which will make the final decision on any discipline Hill should face—agreed with Selby.

But House Speaker Brian Bosma, who has publicly called for Hill to resign, said Monday that lawmakers have waited as long as they can this session to address the uncertainty.

That’s why an amendment authored by state Rep. Tim Wesco, R-Elkhart, is expected to be discussed Monday afternoon—the deadline for amendments to bills before returning to the originating chamber.

The amendment to Senate Bill 178 would require the attorney general to forfeit the office if the office holder is disbarred from or suspended from practicing law for 30 or more days. The forfeiture would create a vacancy in the office, which would be filled by the governor.

Gov. Eric Holcomb has also called on Hill to resign. Hill has denied wrongdoing and is seeking re-election.

“We felt like we needed to give some clarity, so that our state is not faced with a vacancy that cannot be filled or is undefined,” Bosma said.

The allegations against Hill include that he grabbed the buttocks of Democratic Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon and inappropriately touched and made unwelcome sexual comments toward three female legislative staffers—ages 23 to 26 at the time. A special prosecutor declined to file criminal charges and the women have filed a federal lawsuit against Hill and the state accusing him of sexual harassment and defamation.

Selby found that Hill used his state office “to intimidate the four women who alleged misconduct, three of whom were young women at the onset of their careers. (Hill’s) unwavering public campaign in defense of himself showed little restraint and amplified the impact of his conduct on the four women.”

Selby concluded that Hill committed a misdemeanor-level battery offense, but that the state attorney disciplinary commission didn’t prove the more serious allegation of sexual battery.

If Hill lost his license without automatic reinstatement, it could take more than a year for him to regain it. Bosma said that’s part of the reason why he felt like they needed to address the issue.

“We thought this was the best way to do it,” Bosma said.

“This raises some legal concerns—and this kind of rushed proposal lacks transparency and leaves no opportunity for public input,” Hill’s office said in an email to IBJ.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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