Speaking Of Blowhards And Scoundrels..

In yesterday’s post, I argued that, when politics is considered the refuge of blowhards and scoundrels, blowhards and scoundrels are who it will attract. Which brings me to Todd Rokita–elected in November to be Indiana’s Attorney General.

I have previously posted about Rokita–several times, in fact. In 2013, when he was in Congress, I explained why he was more embarrassing than then-Governor Mike Pence. In 2014, I explained why he was dangerous and anti-American. Also in 2014, I highlighted his comparison of himself to Earl Landgrebe, whose most famous quote, “Don’t confuse me with the facts. I’ve got a closed mind” was perhaps more telling than he had intended.

And just last year, I posted a compendium of Rokita’s positions and suggested that Indiana had once again elected a guaranteed embarrassment to the position of Attorney General. (We have a habit…)

That prediction has already been proved correct–and it’s only February!

On Valentine’s Day, Rokita sent out a “tongue in cheek” Tweet supporting Trump’s allegation that the election was stolen from him. As the Star described it, the tweet “featured a meme with floating red hearts and the text ‘You stole my heart like a 2020 election.’ Below the text is a cartoon-like portrait of Donald Trump.”

Twitter declined to see the “tongue in cheek” humor, blocked activity related to the tweet, and warned that it posed a danger of inciting violence. This was no aberration; Rokita has been an all-in Trumper,  urging the Supreme Court to hear election challenges that 60 courts–and every competent lawyer who read them– found bogus.

But hey! You can be a competent lawyer, or a culture warrior–and in Indiana, culture war is what gets you elected.

But all of that history pales against the discovery that Rokita is still employed by the health benefits firm he worked for prior to the  election, notwithstanding the fact that he now has a “day job” (which most lawyers consider a 24-hour-a-day job) as Indiana’s Attorney General. A day job that coincidentally gives him investigative jurisdiction over what we now know is his “other” job…

Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita is moonlighting as a strategic policy adviser for the health benefits company that has employed him since 2019, his office confirmed Tuesday morning, raising questions about whether the arrangement violates state ethics rules.

An Apex receptionist said Rokita was still employed with Apex Benefits and transferred a reporter to his extension. Rokita’s Apex email and voicemail inboxes were still functioning Tuesday morning.

According to his job description, Rokita “advises Apex and its growing roster of clients who employ thousands of hard-working people on public policy initiatives, internal corporate strategies, and employee benefits compliance outcomes. In the best interest of the company’s clients, he also collaborates with industry experts to drive positive transformation of healthcare and benefits issues.”

Aside from the inherent conflict of interest, there’s another small problem: Rokita’s dual employment violates even Indiana’s weak ethics law. (You’d think a lawyer–especially the state’s lawyer–might have noticed that.)

Indiana’s Ghost Employment Rule —found at 42 IAC 1-5-13–is summarized by the office of the Inspector General as follows: “Don’t work on anything outside your official job duties.”

If that seems too complicated to understand, the IG offers some helpful examples:

  • In addition to your employment with the State Library, you also edit drafts of books for a publishing company. You may not review these drafts while engaging in your official duties during working hours.
  • You are an employee of the Criminal Justice Institute who would like to take advantage of State Personnel’s Community Service Leave to volunteer at a local elementary school. You may volunteer at the school in accordance with its guidelines since it has been permitted by a written agency regulation.
  • You work as an administrative assistant for the Civil Rights Commission. You may not assist the director on a case he has taken on pro bono for a non-profit legal service during your working hours since it is not part of your official duties.
  • You are a Family & Social Services Administration employee. You leave work early one afternoon to have your nails done. You may not claim a full day’s pay on your timesheet.
  • You are an Indiana State Police Officer. Your cousin is having a birthday party when you are scheduled to be on patrol. You may not stop patrol and attend the birthday party instead.

Granted, the examples don’t include “You are the Attorney General of the State of Indiana. You may not simultaneously function as an employee and paid advisor for a private firm while collecting a salary as Attorney General.”

Rokita evidently did have some concerns about this patently unethical arrangement: he hired the Inspector General to join his office (the Attorney General office, not the Apex office) in a senior (and undoubtedly well-compensated) position, after allegedly obtaining from that individual’s office an opinion that his conduct didn’t violate Indiana’s seemingly straightforward ethics statute…an opinion that, for some reason, his office declines to make public.

Rokita is evidently as big a fan of Trump’s swamp as he is of Trump’s Big Lie…

 

20 thoughts on “Speaking Of Blowhards And Scoundrels..

  1. When I commented about the incompetence and amoral political scene in Indiana, a Facebook friend in Texas took exception to being excluded from my statement. As someone mentioned yesterday on this blog, Texas’s aged energy infrastructure failed them. Quickly, Governor Abbott went to Fox News to blame alternative energy and told viewers that they could expect more of this failure from the socialist Green New Deal pushed by @AOC. #Priceless

    The operator of their grid quickly dispelled that lie, but how many viewers of Fox News never heard the facts? “If I heard it on Tucker’s television show, it has to be the truth!”

    It also took one day for the energy independent state, which has mentioned secession many times in the past couple of years, to ask for federal relief. Cruz et al. have consistently voted against disaster relief for other states in need. Ted Cruz and Governor Abbott need to show Americans how they can pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. Can you really be a victim of your own incompetence?

    As for Todd Rokita, he’s always been a tub of feces and urine like the Pence family. I suspect karma will be a drag for all of these political hacks.

  2. Rokita has been nothing but a constant embarrassment, one article I read yesterday quoted him as saying that $107,000 salary is no where near enough for him. He has to work a second job! Poor Todd, he has to be kept in the lifestyle he’s accustomed to….

  3. He’s not moonlighting as a strategic policy adviser. He already had that job. He’s moonlighting as our Indiana Attorney General.

  4. Public servants serve the public! When these elected politicians are paid from public coffers, their self dealing and shenanigans cannot be kept private! So, there should be a copious amount of foia requests
    filed leading to appropriate lawsuits! It’s the old Trump shell game, just keep your criminal conduct and corrupt behavior out in the open and that way you’re not responsible for it!

    It’s like robbing a bank! so, if you rob a bank and you manage to get outside, are you innocent? So far, Trump did a similar thing, and has not had to pay a penalty. It just emboldens others to let their inner criminal run wild without fear of penalty.

  5. Wouldn’t the same apply to State Legislators? Like those that created legislation that removes all protections for Wetlands by Legislators that are in the building business? How about Todd Huston that works for the College Board, but leads the House in crafting budgets that includes paying testing companies? The examples to bring up would be endless. This is how Indiana cultivates disgusting politicians like Rokita.

  6. Is there a red state anywhere in the US that doesn’t have at least one nominee for most corrupt or stupidest public servant in history? Never forget our Florida Governor, Ron DeSantis.

  7. I never heard of Rokita, but Pence is among the weakest of characters in politics EVER. As Teresa says, how does Indiana keep electing these morally bankrupt, spineless idiots to represent them? Is that what Hoosiers think of themselves? Really?

    As far as Texas is concerned… Texas Republicans are absolutely the worst at everything. So, like Indiana voters, Texas Republicans keep electing the least of their kind to public office. The only explanation I can think of for this head-in-the-butt politics is that the voters got tired of looking at their own deficiencies in the mirror and picked somebody even worse to yell at. Trump picking Pence for VP is the perfect example of utter incompetence finding someone who is even more incompetent, amoral and just plain stupid.

    Well done, Republicans. Your bench of candidates is so short and filled with splinters that no competent or rational person will sit on it. All Republicans exhibit are “D” list crooks.

  8. “But hey! You can be a competent lawyer, or a culture warrior–and in Indiana, culture war is what gets you elected.”

    The American common culture has disintegrated into multiple warring pieces. That seems like the story of our times.

    Of course, the disintegration is meant to make and maintain loyal audiences for commercial entertainment and social media so it’s a product designed to transfer maximum wealth from the many to the few, so there is that as a benefit to those few.

    A pioneer in that wealth movement, Rush Limbaugh, died yesterday. As Mark Twain never noted, “I’ve never wished a man dead, but I have read some obituaries with great pleasure”. But as Clarence Darrow stated as an interesting but not memorable collection of too many words put into too many words “All men have an emotion to kill; when they strongly dislike some one they involuntarily wish he was dead. I have never killed any one, but I have read some obituary notices with great satisfaction.” Will Rush take his invention to the grave with him?

    In other words, will we who follow in his wake repair the cultural damage that he inflicted on us? Nobody else can.

  9. My understanding is that Indiana’s ghost employment law does not apply to elected officials. None of the Inspector General examples cited are of elected officials. I remember discussion of this issue years ago and that the only requirement is that an elected official show up to his/her office to do the job one time a year and that’s sufficient under Indiana law. I think the theory is that voters will take care of an elected official not doing his or her job. I’ve never researched the law so don’t hold me to it.

    I agree Rokita deserves a lot of criticism for the reasons Sheila writes. I have to disagree though with those posters who think ghost employment and dishonesty is some sort of Republican thing. There are plenty of Democrats out there who would engage in the same conflict of interest. (Rokita is more brazen about it than others.) This is like a politician involved in a sex scandal and people saying only Democrats or Republicans do such a thing. No, it’s a human failing, not a partisan failing.

  10. the lack of knowlege of a base that supports the law and order half of congress,seems to have jumped ship. lawless: present republiqans who swim with sewage. being im a former inmate for growing in my basement,convicted under manditory minimums, can i call foul? or are we to accept the thugs ,(political and civilian)..my only bust was this,and i have no remorse,being it was between close aquintences and my own needs.(no rat here bud).. so heres a buncha suits,telling me,they are not what i see,or,most likely,hear. we have become a game of thrones of our own democracy. if the edication of the blaintant ignornant isnt corrected, i see our country become like turkey or hungry,china…if someone in media had a good intention to,overcome this, make it a movie,hbo style, whereas, the jack boots get their guns taken away,because they couldnt,keep in in their pants. this is after,in roller ball style, the rich,decides who comes and go. i remmember in school, commercials generated for t.v. had to be made so a 8 YO could understand it. im waiting for the gun control oids start their planned ban, and the issues it will impose. im sure the local sheriff will support the thugs,(at least in nodak),until it becomes a killing spree by pantless.
    i talking with gun nuts most everyday here in nodak, and its all about them,and only them… now heres the kicker,your public display,just cost ya sucker. so the legal gun totter,gets to take a back seat because he allowed the thugs in camo,to disarm them,a legal gun owner.. like a bike club,if ya step outta line,the issue is resolved.. if you cant clean house in your burg,then make a stand against them.. the camo thugs are real, and they are why, you will loose your gun rights..but the republiquans will say,its not us,and rush will be in a grave..anyone burning one today to celebrate that? fine smoke,legal..finally..keep ur guns..

  11. Amanda Marcotte writes:

    Modern conservatism long ago abandoned any idea of good governance or a coherent ideology. Instead, the guiding principle is trolling liberals. As Trump discovered during the pandemic, when he convinced his followers to reject masks and social distancing, very few things trigger the liberals as reliably as deliberately causing mass death from wholly preventable causes.

    The sadism undergirding modern conservatism was illuminated by Tim Boyd, the mayor of Colorado City, Texas.

    Boyd then went on to declare that “City and County, along with power providers or any other service owes you NOTHING!” and people who wanted the power turned back on were “lazy” and “looking for a damn hand out!” He recommended that people who want electricity and water stop looking to utility companies and instead “step up and come up with a game plan to keep your family warm and safe” and that people are “capable of doing it themselves!”

    He never bothered to explain how ordinary people should generate electricity and water for themselves, of course, but insisted on the justice of his approach by declaring, “Only the strong will survive and the weak will perish.”

    Boyd ended up resigning after the public outcry, but really, his rant is merely a blunter version of the general GOP ethos that has, in recent months, morphed into an outright death cult.

    It’s the same mentality fueling those who refuse to wear masks or socially distance, believing that any kind of concern or care for others is weak liberal thinking. That’s how ridiculous the American right has become, that they will invite objectively terrible outcomes into their own lives just to own the liberals.
    =============

    While ordinary Texans struggle with no electricity, heat or water, Ted Cruz he took a family trip to Cancun, Mexico. No solidarity with the Proles for Ted Cruz.

    I do believe the modern GOP has went from profound indifference to sadism as Amanda Marcotte wrote.

  12. Todd:
    80% of texas has gas generators, and few,privatly owed and state regulated,and approved wind farms.. and,if ya ever noticed,how power lines shrink in cold weather. texas didnt compensate for that,because a few inches more between poles,well, would cost humans more. being i go to hexas( no i didnt mispell) take a look around,the poles are sun baked dry and windblown chaffed. im laughing at the lies by abbout,and his mayors who wont do a damn thing for their fellow texans. next time remind the texas tourist people,why you dont go to texas..send them a post card,from sunny somewhere else..

  13. From the “No man can serve two masters” to the Rokita service of two (or more) paymasters spans quite some mileage, but it is not an unexpected result where you have a political super majority at the helm year after year after year. If Adolph Hitler had an R beside his name in Indiana he might well win the governorship while staying on the payroll of, for instance, the Indiana Farm Bureau, all while plotting a Trump-like defanging putsch of the members of the Indiana Legislature amidst Brownshirt cries of socialism and big government etc.

    Perhaps it’s time in Indiana to stop pretending that the selection process of our Republican leadership is even a political exercise and time to admit that the process involves only which crook with an R beside his/her name can beguile the Fox-mesmerized masses into giving him/her the power to steal without consequence (e.g., the AG is not likely to indict him or her self, nor for a reasonable stipend in Zurich, his/her fellow larcenists).

    Remember the expression “stinks to high heaven?” That has perfect application to the Hoosier “political” scene today, and without state investigation perhaps the feds can become interested in such an investigation with their wire fraud and other means of correcting the Rokitas of this world.

  14. Given universal knowledge of how derelict they can be in their duties and how easily they are attracted to self-enriching corruption, would it not be possible to write inviolable job descriptions for political positions? Assigning harsh penalties for failure to live up to those requirements and appointing full-time commissions to assuring the office holder does so, while not fool proof, would make the job less attractive to those intending to profit from the public’s inattentiveness.

    Perhaps a handful of concrete and meaningful qualifications should be in place for each and every job and should assure a basic level of ability to meet the job’s requirements. Does it make sense that the toughest job in the world – president of the United States – requires fewer qualifications than the driver of a garbage disposal truck? Real estate mogul DJT with zero experience and less than zero knowledge (everything he “knew” was wrong) was as technically qualified to be president as Hillary Clinton with her background as an attorney and her 30 years of experience in government. Should a Texas governor who can’t remember the name of the Cabinet office he wishes to abolish be named as its chief? Despite her apparent aptitude for the job, should AOC be allowed to represent a complex constituency without first proving her mettle in a less demanding political office?

    Why do we abuse ourselves and our government bodies in this way when there is a solution at hand? More and more often it seems that the worst among us are attracted to jobs with few or no requirements and built-in protections against incompetence, carelessness and corruption. But this situation need not remain as it is. Instead of allowing people who lack the skills to hold jobs that we citizens pay for, why not pass laws that spell out job descriptions that elicit minimum acceptable performance levels and give taxpayers some payback for their money?

    Even low-level government employees must pass civil service tests and, in most cases, background checks to make sure they have no criminal records. Is it not our right to be honestly and competently represented by people with the proven ability to perform their jobs?

  15. Mr. Rokita’s office has responded–not to the merits of the issue, but to the timeline. Here is that response.This message was sent from a non-IU address. Please exercise caution when clicking links or opening attachments from external sources.

    Dear Ms. Kennedy:

    I respectfully request that you correct the below statement on your blog post:

    “Rokita evidently did have some concerns about this patently unethical arrangement: he hired the Inspector General to join his office (the Attorney General office, not the Apex office) in a senior (and undoubtedly well-compensated) position, after allegedly obtaining from that individual’s office an opinion that his conduct didn’t violate Indiana’s seemingly straightforward ethics statute…”

    Lori Torres began work in the Attorney General’s office on January 11. Attorney General Rokita requested the advisory opinion from the Inspector General’s office on January 12 and received it on January 15. The facts do not support the timeline you allege in your post.

    Sincerely,

    Molly Deuberry Craft
    Communications Director
    Office of Attorney General Todd Rokita
    200 West Washington Street, Room 219
    Indianapolis, IN 46204
    molly.craft@atg.in.gov

  16. Wow Sheila! You managed to get a response from the AG’s office.

    After Rokita, acting as Indiana AG, took time to join a frivolous motion challenging the election, I tried to contact the AG. Apparently as AG, you don’t need to answer to any of your constituents, and there is no “contact the AG” option on the AG web page. I did the next best thing, and filed a consumer fraud case asking for the State of Indiana to refunded for the time the AG spent campaigning while conducting his official duties.

    I got a case number assigned, but I think it was an automated response. I have never anything else.

  17. Well at least we have Pete Buttigieg who does not embarass me.If Attorney General Rokita really wants to serve the citizens of Indiana, he should simply work full time for the tax payers. Oh, and I never made a 6 figure salary so what’s his complaint Besides members of the Board of Nursing don’t get paid a dime for their work for the state. They don’t get reimbursed for gas mileage or hotel stay. Some of them drive up to Indianapolis from places like Evansville, Ft. Wayne etc. I guess it’s a good thing AG Rokita never decided to become a nurse.

  18. I have a friend who was editor of a small parish newspaper in Louisiana. He covered the gulf area from Baton Rouge to the Florida panhandle. He used to regale me with tales of the corruption.

    I lived in Illinois where governors use to go from Springfield to Terra Haute.

    Rokita may take this to a new level.

    All I can say, after listening to the news today – Indiana: At least we aren’t Texas 8(
    Just barely

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