Residents of Indiana who follow the news have come to know the state’s current Attorney General, Republican Curtis Hill, as an arrogant and self-important grand-stander– and an African-American version of his hero, Donald Trump.
In more ways than we previously appreciated, evidently.
Hill has been popular with culture warrior Republicans who voted for him and can thus reassure themselves that their anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, anti-social welfare positions aren’t racially motivated.
Since taking office, Hill has pursued a radically right-wing agenda; he has also spent an exorbitant amount of taxpayer dollars “upgrading” his office. Personnel turn-over since Hill assumed control of the AG’s office has been high, and has cost the state an estimated $3.6 million– suggesting a working environment that is less than collegial– and scuttlebutt is that he routinely pisses off his fellow office holders, Republican and Democrat alike.
Now, Hill is accused of groping four women–a state legislator and three staffers– at a legislative reception. According to one of them, as quoted in several media reports,
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.
I realize that this is not an unusual story in our era of #metoo. But then it gets interesting– and by “interesting,” I mean “infuriating.”
The party at which these events occurred was in March. Following the allegations, top legislators, including top Democrats, initiated an investigation. No information about the accusations or the subsequent investigation was communicated to female Democratic legislators, even those in leadership positions. The women lawmakers became aware of the allegations only when they became public, and they became public only because the Indianapolis Star obtained a leaked eight-page memo prepared by the law firm hired to investigate the allegations.
The legislative leaders–including two top male Democrats– issued a joint statement along the lines of “nothing to see here, let’s move along,” in which they agreed that an investigation had been completed and “the matter has been addressed with the Attorney General to the satisfaction of the employees involved.”
Really? From what I hear (admittedly, via the gossip grapevine) the “employees involved” are anything but satisfied. Meanwhile, the public remains in the dark about the nature of the “resolution.”
Hill, of course, indignantly denies everything, and I’m sure he’ll continue to deny engaging in inappropriate behavior, at least until other women come forward. (Let’s face it, if the #metoo movement has taught us anything, it’s that previously well-behaved men in their 50s don’t suddenly and inexplicably begin grabbing women’s buttocks.)
Tawdry and inappropriate behavior aside, here’s my question: Why did the legislative “boys club” close ranks ? I understand why Republican legislators would try to bury an embarrassing episode of gross behavior by one of their own, but why did two top Democratic legislators initially join them? Why weren’t Democratic women in leadership even informed of the allegations and investigations?
If anyone is wondering why so many women are running for political office, this sort of infuriating behavior by the “good old boys” of both parties might offer a clue.
In Washington, both male and female Republicans have demonstrated their willingness to put party above country. (And yes, Susan Brooks, we’re all looking at you.)
Here in Indianapolis, at least some male Democratic legislators are evidently willing to put gender above party. The camaraderie and mutual back-scratching of the good old boys’ club is evidently more important than a few affronted women–or even scoring political points.
After all, boys will be boys.