Curtis Hill, the top law enforcement officer in the state of Indiana, was accused of touching four different women inappropriately at a party at the end of the recent legislative session, according to a report first obtained by the Indianapolis Star. The allegations were recounted in a confidential eight-page memo dated June 18, prepared by the law firm of Taft Stettinius & Hollister on behalf of state legislative leaders.
The alleged incidents happened during the early hours of March 15, at a party at a bar near downtown Indianapolis. The women accusing Hill include a lawmaker and three legislative employees. Republican leaders in the state assembly announced they were launching an investigation into the leak of the report.
“No one should be subjected to unwanted sexual advances. I commend House and Senate leaders for their immediate and formal follow up to the allegations presented to them,” Governor Eric Holcomb (R-Ind.) said in a statement. He declined further comment until after he had “reviewed the facts in detail.” Indiana Republican Party chairman Kyle Hupfer praised the way the state legislature handled the investigation in a statement and added, “As the Republican Party, we have zero tolerance for sexual harassment, and that’s the standard to which we all should adhere. Actions like these alleged have no place in public life or anywhere else.”
Hill, a Republican, denied the allegations. He is not up for re-election until 2020.
UPDATE: Statement from Washington DC AG Karl Racine and Oregon AG Ellen Rosenblum, co-chairs of the Democratic Attorneys General Association:
“The Democratic Attorneys General Association abhors any and all forms of unwanted physical contact, period. We commend these strong women for standing up. State Attorneys General are the chief law officers of our states, and as such we have a solemn duty to demonstrate the highest standards of behavior and accountability. We trust this commitment is shared by all our colleagues, no matter their party affiliation. We encourage a continued, thorough, and transparent investigation into the Indiana Attorney General’s conduct.”
NARAL Pro-Choice American president Ilyse Hogue endorsed Democrat Fred Hubbell for next November’s election, calling him “the champion we need in the Iowa Governor’s Mansion.” With Republicans in control of the governor and both chambers of the state legislature, the Hawkeye State has become a flashpoint in the legal and political battle over abortion rights.
Iowa state law currently prohibits abortions after twenty weeks of pregnancy. Incument Republican governor Kim Reynolds, whom Hubbell is hoping to defeat in the election, signed Senate File 359 into law last May. Known as the heartbeat bill because it would ban abortions once a heartbeat has been detected after about six weeks of pregnancy, it is considered one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country.
According to NPR, critics of the new law say it will prohibit abortions before some women might even know they are pregnant. Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union both already announced their intentions to sue Governor Reynolds and the state. The law is scheduled to go into effect on July 1.
A recent court decision does not bode well for the future of the heartbeat law. The Iowa Supreme Court ruled 5-2 last Friday that women had a right to an abortion under the state’s constitution, striking down a 2017 law requiring a 72-hour waiting period for women seeking an abortion. “Autonomy and dominion over one’s body go to the very heart of what it means to be free. At stake in this case is the right to shape, for oneself, without unwarranted governmental intrusion, one’s own identity, destiny, and place in the world,” Iowa Chief Justice Mark Cady wrote in the majority opinion. “Nothing could be more fundamental to the notion of liberty. We therefore hold, under the Iowa Constitution, that implicit in the concept of ordered liberty is the ability to decide whether to continue or terminate a pregnancy.”
“Women deserve equal access to quality, affordable health care, and as governor, I am committed to making that a reality,” Hubbell said.
Former Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D-Va.) will be the keynote speaker at the Kansas Democratic Party’s bi-annual Demofest convention, scheduled to take place in Wichita during the weekend of August 24-26. It has been widely speculated that McAuliffe, a former chairman of the National Governors Association and of the Democratic National Committee, is considering a presidential run in 2020.