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Indiana lawmakers add new qualification for attorney general candidate to election bill

A sign above a door in the Statehouse reads "Attorney General"
Brandon Smith
/
IPB News
Under current law, candidates for attorney general must have lived in Indiana for at least two years before the election and have an active Indiana law license for at least five years before taking office.

Candidates for Indiana attorney general would be disqualified from running if they face certain sanctions from the state Supreme Court under language added to a bill Monday.

Legislators insist the provision is not aimed at current Attorney General Todd Rokita. Rokita faced a public reprimand from the Indiana Supreme Court last year, and there are more complaints filed against him with the state attorney disciplinary commission related to his conduct.

Under current law, the only qualifications for attorney general are having lived in Indiana for at least two years before the election and having an Indiana law license for at least five years upon taking office.

Language added to HB 1265 in the Senate Elections Committee says a candidate for AG is disqualified if the Supreme Court disbars them or suspends their law license without automatic reinstatement within a year of the election.

READ MORE: Indiana Supreme Court unseals Rokita's confidential agreement to public reprimand

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Committee Chair Mike Gaskill (R-Pendleton) said that issue wasn’t clear in state law.

“If we didn’t provide some clarity for that particular situation, then we would be leaving it up to the courts,”Gaskill said.

Rep. Tim Wesco (R-Osceola), the author of HB 1265, agreed. He said the language provides clarity where there’s doubt and plans to agree to the provision when the bill goes back to the House. He offered a similar, stricter amendment in 2020, in response to then-Attorney General Curtis Hill's discipline from the Indiana Supreme Court for criminally battering four women.

Brandon is our Statehouse bureau chief. Contact him at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

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Brandon Smith has covered the Statehouse for Indiana Public Broadcasting for more than a decade, spanning three governors and a dozen legislative sessions. He's also the host of Indiana Week in Review, a weekly political and policy discussion program seen and heard across the state. He previously worked at KBIA in Columbia, Missouri and WSPY in Plano, Illinois. His first job in radio was in another state capitol - Jefferson City, Missouri - as a reporter for three stations around the Show-Me State.