KOKOMO – To quote former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, “There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know.”
 
This is exactly where we are after one week of the Attorney General Curtis Hill mess. It is a mess – no “ifs” “ands” or “butts” about it! It is a mess that leaves a lot of knowns, known unknowns and unknown unknowns floating around the Statehouse like countless political fairies. The worst part is that this mess is likely to get a lot messier as time unfolds.
 
First, let’s look at the facts as they have been reported.
 
At around half-past midnight on March 15, the Indiana Legislature adjourned sine die. For those of you who don’t speak Latin, that means, “We stop getting paid for doing nothing.” The next morning, the Indianapolis Star headline screamed, “Indiana Legislative Session Descends Into Chaos on Final Day.”  What are the senators, representatives, lobbyists, staff and good time Charlies supposed to do after a day of blaming each other for allowing a handful of tax, gun, technology and school bills to die without a vote? Why have a big party, of course! The echoes from the beating of the legislative gavel had barely died out when the booze began to flow at party central, AJ’s Lounge.
 
Before I go further, let me say that I am the youngest of seven children. I spent a full 20 years growing up listening to my mother tell my older brothers and sisters and then myself that, “You can’t get nothing after midnight except into trouble!” She also liked to say, “It isn’t always what you do that gets you in trouble, sometimes it’s where you are at!” Although I rebelled against these two little homilies for all of my teenage years, I came to see the wisdom when I had my own four little renegades. Mom was right!
 
There were many, many senators and representatives who immediately headed home at the conclusion of the legislative session. We could name all of the folks who didn’t go to AJ’s to party but what would be the fun in that? At my age, a nice comfy bed with my wife and dogs in it sounds infinitely more interesting at 1 a.m. than pounding down Hennessey’s in an Indianapolis dive. But hey, that’s just me. Besides, those partiers had the fact that the Hoosier taxpayers would bring them all back down to Indianapolis at a future date for more mayhem and stipends during a special session. One more night away from home and another celebration. Party on, Garth!
 
On May 14, the first of four complainants, one elected female representative and three female legislative staff members, came forward to report to legislative leaders that Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill was at the sine die party at AJ’s and that a besotted Hill had groped, grabbed, patted, hugged, squeezed and sleazed his way through the evening in a manner that made them all uncomfortable and offended. Armed with this complaint and the three subsequent complaints, the bipartisan leadership of the Indiana legislature decided to farm out the investigation of the incident to a local law firm.
 
It appears from most reports that the intent of the investigation was not to thoroughly investigate all of the accusations, but rather to gauge the potential legal liability to the General Assembly. An eight-page memorandum issued by the law firm on June 18 concluded that because there had been no embossed invitations to the party at AJ’s, the event was not officially sanctioned by the legislature and therefore, the boys under the dome were legally off the hook from a liability standpoint.
 
The melodrama took a ratchet up to “mess” status when the Indianapolis Star started poking around the dung heap. Seems that someone gave a copy of the investigative report to the press and the questions started to snowball. By Monday, June 29, the bipartisan leadership tried to get ahead of the story by announcing the investigation and by declaring that, “The matter has been addressed with the attorney general to the satisfaction of the employees involved.”
 
By Thursday, July 5, Speaker Brian Bosma, President Pro Tem David Long and Gov. Holcomb were demanding the resignation of Curtis Hill. Since then, Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch, Secretary of State Connie Lawson, U.S. Rep. Susan Brooks and others joined the chorus of those calling for Hill’s head on a platter.
 
On Friday, July 6, State Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon and legislative staffer Gabrielle McLemore came forward to associate their names with the accusations and to give detail to their complaints.
 
We know that Curtis Hill was never interviewed by the outside counsel. We know that Hill has not spoken with the governor nor anyone from his office regarding the early morning hours of March 15. The remaining fact we know is that Curtis Hill is adamant that he is innocent and that he will not resign. 
 
With these facts and one big load of known unknowns we’ve got the makings for a good old Hoosier hog-pen mud fest.
 
I left one known fact out of the above recitation. I spoke with at least six attorneys regarding this issue and each one made the surprising assertion that Curtis Hill was not entitled to due process or a presumption of innocence in any forum except a criminal proceeding. That is altogether both sad and disappointing to me but hey, I was just a business major.
 
I heard reports coming out of Indianapolis on Saturday that a large Waste Management truck backed up to the Statehouse and dumped a load of unanswered questions out on the steps. I’ve made my way to the dump site and have picked my way through the smelly mess to find some of the more interesting questions.
 
Why did the complainants wait two months to bring Hill’s conduct to the attention of the leadership of the General Assembly? I spoke with a state representative who was told by Rep. Reardon on March 15 about the incident. What transpired between March 15 and May 14 to activate the outrage?
 
Legislative leaders had the legal memorandum on June 18 and yet took no action prior to June 29, and then apparently only under pressure of imminent publication of the story by the press. If Hill’s conduct was so egregious, why was he not summoned on June 18 or 19 and asked to resign at that time? 
 
The Indiana Legislature has investigative abilities. Why didn’t leadership conduct its own bipartisan investigation of the incident?
 
I spoke with several state representatives who were completely unaware of the situation until they read about it in the Indianapolis Star. None of them was informed of the details nor asked what action should be taken in regard to Hill. As elected officials, were state representatives and senators entitled to an opportunity to hear the facts of the case, ask questions and come to some resolution regarding whether or not legislative leaders should call for Hill’s resignation? There were plenty of legislators at the party at AJ’s. Why were none of those present at the party asked to testify or give a statement?
 
Has the Indiana General Assembly established a new process for dealing with accusations made against its own members when it comes to sexual conduct? In the future will leadership only speak with complainants, hire outside counsel in each incident and call for resignations without discussion by its members? Also, has the statute of limitation on past legislator misbehavior expired?  (There’s going to be some members worried about this one.)
 
Why didn’t the outside counsel inform leadership that two of the claims against Hill amounted to him committing sexual battery as defined by Indiana criminal code? Why wasn’t the information on Hill immediately referred to the Marion County prosecutor?
 
A leader of the religious right wing of the Indiana Republican Party made some serious allegations concerning the accusations against Hill and the subsequent calls for his resignation. The leader who asked not to be identified said, “The Republican Establishment in Indianapolis and the leadership at the State Committee is petrified of Curtis Hill. They know his is a rising star in the party, is in more demand on the Lincoln Day circuit than any other statewide elected official and is a potential primary opponent to the governor. They are desperate to slow his momentum, even if it means teaming up with Democrats to do so. It is shameful.”
 
This person alleges that Hill was set up because he has told several people that he was going to challenge Gov. Holcomb in 2020. He allegedly scared those in the GOP establishment by leading the successful effort to retain the marriage language plank in the Republican platform at the state convention in early June.

What information does Gov. Holcomb and the others calling for Hill’s resignation have that we might not now know? Is there information out there, or past conduct on the part of Hill, that would preclude discussing this incident with him before calling for his resignation?
 
Another interesting question is did Gov. Holcomb consider asking the Indiana State Police to investigate rather than the inspector general? For that matter, did any of the complainants ask that criminal charges be filed against Hill? If not, why not?
 
An Indiana county prosecutor told me that a delay of reporting the incident for two months would make him very reluctant to file charges unless there was significant evidence. Two employment law attorneys told me that the general standard for filing sexual harassment claims in a work environment is within 120 days from the time of the incident. These same two attorneys said that in this “#Metoo” world that if Hill has a past history of bad conduct regarding women that we can expect those complaints to emerge in the near future.
 
Here is what I personally think about Curtis Hill and this entire sordid mess. Curtis Hill, what were you thinking when you went to that party? Most members of the Indiana legislature don’t even like you. My numerous sources tell me that you most definitely came to the party unaccompanied and that you were visibly intoxicated. Why would you ever jeopardize your career by putting yourself in such a situation? If you were truly looking to run for governor, why would you load a political weapon and hand it to your opponents? You failed to color inside the lines and Indianapolis has a way of dealing with cocky, arrogant and aggressive conduct.
 
I do not presume to know whether you did or did not do the things of which you are accused; only you and the complainants know for sure. Despite what numerous attorneys told me, I do think you are entitled to due process. You are right to call for an investigation by the Marion County prosecutor. Only the bar of proving you guilty of sexual battery may save your job, family and career and that bar of guilt is set pretty high.
 
I do not believe that anyone in the Republican Party conspired to set you up. I’m afraid you did that yourself. I believe that there are a bunch of Republicans in the legislature, in the Statehouse and in the political community who have enjoyed watching you self-destruct and did nothing to help you. That is not their responsibility. If you chose to jump off of the ship, they are not obligated to throw you a life buoy.
 
Politically speaking, you are politically finished. You may salvage some degree of integrity before this ordeal is over, but please do not be under any illusion that you have a political future. You are now politically toxic and there could be no rehabilitation that can save your career. If you are innocent, then fight to the bitter end. If you are guilty, then do your family, your state and your party a favor and resign now.
 
I like Curtis Hill personally. I think that he is basically a good man. I supported him for election. I believed that he was the right man for the right time as attorney general. But something has been rattling around in my mind. It is a saying that I had to memorize as part of my pledge process for fraternity back at Ball State 46 years ago. It was from the 1941 movie, “The Wolfman”: “Even a man who is pure at heart and says his prayers at night, may become a wolf when the wolf bane blooms and the moon is full and bright.” Albert Camus called “it” L’Etranger – The Stranger. The more I learn, the stranger this becomes. 

Dunn is the former Howard County and 4th CD Republican Party chairman.