A lawsuit filed Wednesday in Marion Superior Court is giving fresh scrutiny to Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita’s continued employment at a private company while he was beginning his term as the state’s top lawyer.
Barbara Tully, a resident of Marion County, wants to see the advisory opinion issued by the Indiana inspector general about the attorney general’s job as a “strategic policy advisor” for Apex Benefits, an Indianapolis company. In her lawsuit — Barbara Tully v. Theodore (“Todd”) Rokita, in his official capacity as Indiana Attorney General, 49D06-2107-PL-025333 — Tully argues because the “salient portion of the alleged IG report” was voluntarily disclosed to the public, Rokita “waived any privilege to refuse to disclose it.”
The Indiana Attorney General’s Office did not respond to a request for comment by IL deadline.
The lawsuit cites a Feb. 16 article published in the Indianapolis Business Journal that examined Rokita’s private sector job. According to the article, a spokesperson from the Attorney General’s Office described the Indiana inspector general as having determined that Rokita’s “interests and outside employment are all squarely within the boundaries of the law and do not conflict with his official duties.”
Tully submitted a written request to the attorney general under the Indiana Access to Public Records Act, Indiana Code § 5-14-3-1 et seq., for the inspector general’s advisory opinion. When the attorney general did not respond “within a reasonable time,” Tully filed a formal complaint with the Indiana public access counselor.
However, the public access counselor, Luke Britt, found Rokita could keep the inspector general’s opinion confidential.
“While the (inspector general’s) opinion was summarized in statements from his office, I do not consider withholding the opinion to be an abuse of that discretion,” Britt wrote in a letter to Tully. “It could very well contain other recommendations, suggestions, and conclusions that were not disclosed and are intended to be between a public official and the state ethics chief.”
Britt did agree with Tully that the attorney general did not respond before the reasonable time had elapsed.
Tully, as president of Indiana Vote by Mail, was the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit challenging the state’s restrictions on absentee voting. In her legal action against Rokita, she is asking the court to allow her to inspect and copy the inspector general’s opinion.
In March, Rokita announced he was leaving Apex and divesting his equity position.