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Indiana attorney general keeps job with health benefits firm

Indiana's newly elected attorney general says state ethics officials have cleared his ongoing role with a health benefits consulting firm in which he has an ownership stake, but he has declined to release that opinion.

Posted: Feb 18, 2021 9:35 AM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana's newly elected attorney general says state ethics officials have cleared his ongoing role with a health benefits consulting firm in which he has an ownership stake, but he has declined to release that opinion.

Republican Todd Rokita began his term as state government’s top lawyer in early January while still working for Indianapolis-based Apex Benefits, a company he joined as a top executive in 2019 after ending 10 years in Congress following an unsuccessful 2018 run for U.S. Senate.

Attorney general’s office spokesperson Lauren Houck said Rokita is working with Apex “in a limited capacity” as a strategic policy adviser and remains a director or executive board member with other businesses.

Julia Vaughn, policy director for government-accountability watchdog group Common Cause Indiana, called the dual roles “quite concerning.”

“Hoosiers need an attorney general who is fully focused on protecting the public interest and given that he isn’t being transparent about the situation, how can we be assured there are no conflicts of interest involved in this?” Vaughn said.

Rokita, whose attorney general salary is about $107,000 a year, defends his continued private sector employment, which was first reported Tuesday by the political newsletter Importantville, as an asset in his state role.

“Attorney General Rokita has sought and obtained an advisory opinion from the Inspector General’s office, indicating that his interests and outside employment are all squarely within the boundaries of the law and do not conflict with his official duties,” his office said in a statement. “Todd Rokita has built up private sector business interests that he will maintain.”

Stephanie McFarland, spokeswoman for the Inspector General’s Office, said all of its informal advisory opinions are signed by either the state ethics director or one of two staff attorneys, not the inspector general.

Rokita won election to a four-year term in November and announced in late December he had picked then-state Inspector General Lori Torres as his chief deputy attorney general and chief of staff.

Molly Deuberry Craft, Rokita’s communications director, said he requested the opinion on Jan. 12, the day after he took office and Torres joined his staff. Craft said Torres “was not involved whatsoever” in the ethics review.

Houck said Rokita would abide by the state’s financial disclosure laws but that “disclosing information contained in the advisory opinion would violate the standard non-disclosure agreements signed previously with these entities, therefore the advisory opinion will not be made public.”

Rokita has faced several past controversies, including allegations that his congressional staffers often felt obligated to do political work to help his campaigns. And a 2018 Associated Press analysis of state and congressional spending records revealed that Rokita had spent more than $3 million in public money on advertising campaigns that often coincided with his bids for office.

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Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 660071

Reported Deaths: 12531
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion904161633
Lake48298874
Allen35720633
Hamilton31970396
St. Joseph29796510
Elkhart25331412
Vanderburgh21192377
Tippecanoe19927199
Johnson16312356
Porter15917269
Hendricks15785300
Clark11913180
Madison11717315
Vigo11562229
Monroe10300159
Delaware9824179
LaPorte9739196
Howard9038195
Kosciusko8539108
Bartholomew7424147
Hancock7399130
Warrick7399150
Floyd7180167
Wayne6622191
Grant6413157
Boone606888
Morgan6066124
Dubois5890111
Dearborn544466
Cass542899
Marshall5414104
Henry541392
Noble508476
Jackson464165
Shelby459890
Lawrence4174111
Gibson400981
Harrison397863
Clinton394453
Montgomery385083
DeKalb384378
Knox356285
Miami356163
Whitley348435
Huntington341876
Steuben337455
Wabash330576
Putnam328259
Ripley326461
Adams322149
Jasper314843
White297152
Jefferson293773
Daviess285096
Fayette271156
Decatur270188
Greene260780
Posey260431
Wells257174
Scott250050
LaGrange240770
Clay240344
Randolph225376
Spencer216930
Jennings214344
Washington209927
Sullivan202939
Fountain201042
Starke187250
Owen181953
Fulton177937
Jay177528
Carroll176218
Perry173335
Orange170950
Rush164322
Vermillion160141
Franklin159135
Tipton145941
Parke138615
Pike127432
Blackford120527
Pulaski106544
Newton96531
Brown94839
Benton91713
Crawford90313
Martin80114
Warren75312
Switzerland7527
Union66910
Ohio52911
Unassigned0433

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