Probe of Indiana's Attorney General cost taxpayers at least $26K
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — An investigation into allegations that Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill drunkenly groped four women at a party last March cost taxpayers at least $26,300, according to records a newspaper obtained through open records requests.
Special prosecutor Daniel Sigler's bill totaled $5,217 — mostly for hourly wages — while the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department paid an estimated $3,226 for a sex crime detective's work on the Hill investigation, The Indianapolis Star reported .
But the bulk of the expenses, $17,861, came from the office of Inspector General Lori Torres, which opened its inquiry after requests by Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb and legislative leadership.
Documents from Torres' office show that a special agent worked 285 hours for total expenses of $8,618, while various legal professionals worked about 200 hours, with an average hourly wage of $41.62, for a total of $8,344, the Star reported.
The remaining balance paid for 27 hours of work from a transcriptionist and 1.5 hours of an administrative assistant.
Hill, a Republican, has denied allegations that he inappropriately touched an Indiana lawmaker and three legislative assistants during a March 15 party held at an Indianapolis bar to mark the end of the legislative session.
In October, Sigler declined to file criminal charges against Hill, saying he lacked sufficient evidence to secure a battery conviction.
Hill was also cleared of any ethical breaches by the Inspector General's office, which released a searing report detailing its findings .
That report said eyewitnesses told investigators that Hill's behavior at the party was inappropriate, "creepy" and made many of the women at the party uncomfortable. But he didn't break any state ethics rules.
Hill declined to comment on the cost of the investigation through his spokesman, Chris Proffitt, who noted that the costs were incurred by other agencies. Hill hasn't used any public funds to defend himself, instead drawing on campaign money and creating a legal defense fund.
It's unclear whether taxpayer funding would pay for Hill's defense in a potential civil case. Documents first disclosed by the Star show that Hill's office drafted a contract that would pay $100,000 to the Indianapolis law firm of Betz and Blevins to represent Hill and his office.
Hill's office has declined to answer questions asking whether Hill intended to pursue that agreement.
Hill's private attorney, Kevin Betz, said he doesn't plan to take any public funds to defend Hill against any civil claims or discrimination claims.
Information from: The Indianapolis Star, http://www.indystar.com