Commentary: Curtis Hill, lost in the sea of me

By John Krull
TheStatehouseFile.com 

INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill says he wants “due process.”

He says the charges by at least four women that he groped or accosted them while drunk at a party on March 15 are false.

John Krull, publisher, TheStatehouseFile.com

He says he wants his “name” – presumably, his good name – back.

Okay.

Hill’s defense, such as it is, is an odd one.

He complains that no one asked him for his side of the story. But, when someone does ask him to speak his piece, he says now is not the time for him to answer questions.

He wants everyone to believe that four different women would offer stories detailing similar conduct on his part at the same event and that they all would by lying about it. Hill’s defenders tried to make the scandal seem like a partisan smear campaign when the first two women to publicly identify themselves turned out to be Democrats.

That effort unraveled when the third woman to come forward to attest to Hill’s ill conduct was a Republican staffer.

Furthermore, Hill and his band of followers want everyone to believe that Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb, Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, and Indiana Senate President Pro Tempore David Long, R-Fort Wayne, all would turn on a fellow Republican without cause. They want us to think Holcomb, Bosma and Long would do this in an election year that promises to be contentious.

And that they would do this if there was any doubt in their minds that Hill had done it.

Still worse is Hill’s implied argument – that, somehow, he’s “entitled” to hold high political office unless and until a court determines that he committed sexual assault.

The notion that serving as Indiana attorney general is a privilege and a duty, not a right, seems not have occurred to him. Nor does the idea that he conducted himself in a manner unbefitting the dignity of his office seems to have entered his thinking,, even if only the least of charges – that he was drunk and aggressive in public – prove to be true.

Perhaps that’s because, in his world, this seems to be all about him.

His name.

His rights.

Not the rights of the women.

Not the interests of his party.

Not the needs of the state.

Okay.

The attorney general should have his investigation.

But, if it turns out these women are telling the truth, then there should be some harsh consequences for the attorney general.

I can’t be the only person around who is tired of hearing people who ought to know better argue that the rules shouldn’t apply to them – or, at least that a different set of rules should apply to them.

If the investigation demonstrates that Hill in fact did do the things that these four women, Democrats and Republicans, said he did, then his punishment shouldn’t be confined to his leaving office. His license to practice law should be suspended – as former President Bill Clinton’s was following the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

No officer of the court, which is what a lawyer is, should be allowed to lie about something this serious.

And, if it turns out that everyone else in this sordid episode is lying – that the four women, Eric Holcomb, Brian Bosma, David Long and just about every other elected official, Democrat or Republican, have twisted the truth, well, then, they should face consequences.

Somehow, though, it doesn’t seem likely that they all are lying.

One detail from the accounts of Hill’s conduct on March 15 seems revealing.

He apparently kept asking, “Do you know who I am?”

It’s possible to see the seeds of his self-absorption – the belief that this is all about him and that his concerns are the only ones that need to be considered – in that query.

But it’s also at the heart of Curtis Hill’s defense strategy.

He wants the investigation to come to answer that question. He wants it to tell us who he is.

There’s a good chance Indiana’s attorney general won’t like the answer when it comes.

John Krull is director of Franklin College’s Pulliam School of Journalism, host of “No Limits” WFYI 90.1 Indianapolis and publisher of TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.

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