AG Rokita continuing business advisory roles

Indiana’s new attorney general is being paid by private businesses for consulting work, including $25,000 a year for advising a Connecticut-based pharmaceutical company, according to a newspaper report.

Republican Todd Rokita outlined work with several companies during 2020 in a financial disclosure report filed Wednesday with the state ethics commission. Rokita’s filing acknowledges being paid by these companies, but his office declined to say how much.

“We have provided all of the information required to be in compliance with the law,” Rokita spokeswoman Molly Craft told The Indianapolis Star. He faces no allegations of illegality.

One of those companies, Connecticut-based NanoViricides, pays Rokita $25,000 a year and provided him $15,000 in stock for his ongoing work with the company, according to U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings cited by the Star. Rokita’s financial disclosure described him as a director of the company that develops medicines to treat viruses.

Rokita, who began his term as state government’s top lawyer in early January, announced last week that he was giving up his work and ownership stake in Indianapolis-based health benefits firm Apex Benefits after earlier saying he would continue as a strategic policy adviser.

Rokita’s office said state ethics officials cleared his ongoing involvement with Apex while drawing his $107,000 attorney general salary but declined to release that advisory opinion. Rokita joined Apex as a top executive in 2019 following 10 years in Congress and an unsuccessful 2018 U.S. Senate campaign.

Rokita’s state disclosure filing also lists involvement with business accelerator Acel360, the Indianapolis-based transportation and logistics company Merchandise Warehouse and pharmaceutical company Sonnet BioTherapeutics.

“Although none of the following (calendar year) 2020 clients make up more than 33% of non-state income, and therefore do not have to be reported according to the law and guidance from the office of the inspector general, they are being reported for transparency,” Rokita wrote.

Sonnet BioTherapeutics CEO Pankaj Mohan told the Star that Rokita has been a paid member of its business strategy advisory committee since last year.

“This committee, as a group, primarily advises company executives and helps them execute on growth strategies worldwide,” Mohan said. He did not reveal how much the company was paying Rokita.

The state Democratic Party criticized Rokita for continuing his private business activity.

“Todd Rokita is a walking conflict of interest, and he has voided himself from any credibility while serving as Indiana’s attorney general,” Democratic spokesman Drew Anderson said.

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