Editor’s note: This story has been updated.
As he prepares to begin a 30-day suspension of his law license, Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill is doubling down on his campaign efforts and making his case for reelection as he courts delegates for next month’s Indiana Republican Convention.
Hill sent a letter this week to the state’s GOP delegates in response to Monday’s discipline order, which found he committed battery and violated Indiana Professional Conduct Rules 8.4(b) and (d) through his conduct related to a March 2018 party where four women say he drunkenly groped them.
The delegates for both major political parties in Indiana will select their respective AG candidates at their conventions next month, and those candidates will face off in the general election.
Hill’s suspension begins May 18, and he will be automatically reinstated at the end of 30 days.
In his letter, Hill tells delegates he will abide by the suspension order and will use the time “to reflect on lessons learned.” The central theme of his message is that he will continue “Standing Strong.”
“And on June 17th, I will come back stronger than ever, committed to my service to Hoosiers,” Hill wrote, referencing his reinstatement date. “I will NEVER stop Standing Strong for the values you and I hold dear.”
Those values, he continued, include the right to life, the Second Amendment and fighting against federal overreach. Additionally, he said he’s stood “shoulder to shoulder with President Trump” even when doing so was unpopular.
“And I don’t need Rhetoric … I’ve got a Record!” he continued.
In the letter to delegates provided to Indiana Lawyer by a campaign staffer, Hill maintains that even during his suspension, he will remain the “duly elected Attorney General.” He’s appointed his chief deputy, Aaron Negangard, to lead the office in his stead, but Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb has petitioned the Indiana Supreme Court for clarification on whether the suspension means Hill has “vacated” his office.
If so, Holcomb argued to the high court that he would have the power to appoint a successor. The justices have given Hill’s defense team and the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission until noon Friday to respond to the governor’s motion.
Though he doesn’t name Holcomb specifically, Hill does take aim at the political “establishment” and Republican “moderates.” Those people were not the ones who put him in statewide office in 2016, he wrote.
“No — the people that had my back were you, the delegates. You have that power. You’re in control.”
The incumbent AG urges the delegates not to put their support behind any of his GOP competitors. Indianapolis attorney John Westercamp and Decatur County Prosecutor Nate Harter are officially in the race, while former Indiana Congressman Todd Rokita said he is seriously considering throwing his hat into the ring.
Both Harter and Rokita have said Hill’s professional discipline means he should no longer be in office. Indiana GOP Chair Kyle Hupfer has agreed, saying that Hoosiers would be best served with a new AG and that he has faith in the delegates.
Even so, Harter and Rokita are encouraging party unity and are sounding the alarm against the possibility of a Democrat succeeding Hill. State Sen. Karen Tallian and former Evansville Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel are each vying for the Democratic nomination to run as their party’s 2020 AG candidate.
Westercamp, however, has kept his narrative focused on his campaign platform and has largely declined to directly address Hill’s disciplinary troubles.
But “don’t be fooled,” Hill wrote to the GOP delegates. “These new candidates don’t care about your voice. They only care about themselves and taking another step up the ladder.”
If Republicans had listened to the “establishment” in 2016, Hill opined, Donald Trump would not have been the Republican nominee for president, and Democrat Hillary Clinton would now be in the White House.
“Everyone likes to rewrite that story, but the establishment is just quiet now, biding their time to take out everyone who doesn’t give them power,” he wrote. “It’s very clear they think I’m in their way. And that’s why I need your help.”
Hill closed the letter by promising to reach out to the delegates individually to answer their questions.
“I know you’ve been in this fight with me from day one, and I just want you to know that nothing changes. We continue we fight on,” he said in closing.
“We are Standing Strong! And with your help, we’re going to win!”
The Indiana Republican Convention that will select the party’s AG nominee will be held virtually on June 18 – the day after Hill’s law license is reinstated.