Indiana has a habit of elevating legal embarrassments to the position of Attorney General. I still remember pompous Theodore Sendak, who made people call him “General.” Sendak led the fight against revamping Indiana’s archaic criminal code, arguing that modernization would “just make defense attorneys rich,” and he was a major proponent of capital punishment.
Curtis Hill, our outgoing AG, was initially known for his Elvis impersonations and more recently for groping female legislators and staffers. When he did take legal positions, they were equally embarrassing: the sorts of anti-choice, anti-gay, last century arguments we’ve come to expect from Republican officeholders playing to the GOP’s base “base.”
Todd Rokita, who will assume the office in January, is arguably even worse. There has never been a Republican derriere Rokita wouldn’t kiss in his ongoing efforts to feed at the public trough.
As Secretary of State, Rokita helped to write the nation’s first Voter ID bill–despite the fact that, like the rest of the country, Indiana had never experienced a problem with in-person voter fraud. (In Rokita’s worldview, we do have a problem with “urban” people actually being allowed to vote…)
More recently, he enthused over Texas’ bonkers lawsuit, insisting that measures in other states making it easier to vote during the pandemic somehow diluted the votes of Indiana citizens. (Presumably, he sees no problem with the state’s “winner take all” allocations of Electoral Votes, which totally erase Democratic ballots cast in the state..)
What else has Rokita opposed or supported? Let us count the ways:
He has compared African Americans who vote Democratic to slaves., and ran an ad against Colin Kaepernick that was widely considered racist.
He has opposed allowing migrant children to be placed in American homes, claiming they carried Ebola.
He’s certainly no friend to women: he opposes abortion even in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother, and NUVO has reported that Rokita does not support equal wages for equal work for women.
- He doesn’t believe in climate change, and he doesn’t believe that immigration reform should include a path to citizenship.
There’s much more. When he was in Congress, ten former staffers accused him of maintaining a “toxic work environment,” abusing staff members and insisting that they perform menial tasks like cleaning his car and emptying his trash.
The Chicago Tribune accused Rokita of violating ethics laws during his tenure as Secretary of State. And for truly bizarre positions, it’s hard to beat his insistence that the FAA should be privatized (because, he asserted, the federal government cannot do anything as well as private-sector businesses), and his opposition to rules requiring pilots to get periodic medical exams. (He said he trusted the pilots to decide whether they were medically-fit to fly.)
In Congress, Rokita authored a bill that would have reduced the availability of subsidized lunches for public school students. But he sure supported “feeding” students his brand of “Americanism.” According to the Chicago Tribune,
A Jasper County teacher asked Rokita to leave his high school civics class in November 2016 after a talk that was supposed to be about the Constitution got off on the wrong foot, according to two students. Rokita had asked the class if they were taught about ‘American Exceptionalism.’ But when a number of students seemed puzzled by the concept, he had a testy exchange with their teacher, Paul Norwine, whom he criticized for not including it in the curriculum, the students said. Tensions eased and the talk proceeded, but the class was dumbfounded, the students said. ‘Mr. Rokita got very angry and said, ‘You have an American congressman in your class, what are you doing?’ said Marcus Kidwell, 19, a Donald Trump supporter who was a senior at the time. ’He seems like a pretty hot-headed guy. That disappointed me because he’s a Republican and I was pretty excited to meet him.’”
Sources for the foregoing–and much more–are at the link. The organization, Restore Public Trust, says his past behaviors disqualify Rokita for public office.
But not in Indiana, a state that is getting steadily closer to its goal of displacing Mississippi as the laughingstock of states.