IN Focus: AG Todd Rokita defends trip to US-Mexico border in one-on-one interview

INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita is defending a recent state-funded trip to the southern US border, amidst calls from Democrats for Rokita to reimburse the state for his travels.

According to Rokita’s office, the late January trip was his second to the southern border in three months. He met with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, law enforcement officials and other state attorneys general.

“This border issue, this non-enforcement of our sovereign rights as a country isn’t just an issue for border states,” Rokita said in an interview Tuesday. “I’m a chief law enforcement officer and legal officer here in the state of Indiana. When you have the federal government not doing its job, I think the states have to do their job.”

Rokita went on to say that a huge focus of his trip are the issues of human trafficking and the drug epidemic.

“We’re uncovering more and more evidence that shows that they’re carrying fentanyl that can kill everyone in this state 10 times over,” Rokita said.

Rokita confirmed that the trip was paid for with state funds, but says no taxpayer money was spent inappropriately. Still, the Indiana Democratic Party is calling on Rokita to reimburse Hoosiers for his travel.

“Hoosier taxpayers should not be footing the bill off of his selfish political agenda,” said Drew Anderson, Communications Director for the Indiana Democratic Party. “It should be a congressional elected official that, in my view, has the has the jurisdiction to make those trips.”

Rokita’s office says he drove himself, and that his stop on the way back at Trump rally was ‘seperate’ from the trip to the border. And the attorney general continued to push back on questions about his travels in a string of Twitter posts on Friday.

Todd Rokita on Twitter: “The liberal fake news is creating a distraction to divert attention from the crisis at the southern border that I have been sounding the alarm on. The drugs, sex trafficking, life-killing fentanyl, and high crime arrives in Indiana within 48 hours of crossing the border…” / Twitter

Watch more from AG Rokita’s trip, plus the latest from the Statehouse, in the video above.

Meanwhile, with the 2022 legislative session at its halfway point, IN Focus is also taking a look this week at several bills moving on to the Senate.

Heading to the upper house is House Bill 1001, which would limit what private employers can do with vaccine mandates. Workers would be given an opt-out option and have to submit to weekly testing for COVID-19. Also on the table is House Bill 1116, which limits who can vote absentee in elections. Under these new rules, a voter would be required to say that they can’t vote in-person on Election Day, nor during Indiana’s 28-day early voting period. Exceptions can be made for the elderly and disabled voters.

Senators will also consider several controversial bills addressing Hoosier education and curriculum in schools. One of them is House Bill 1134 which, among other provisions, would limit what can be taught on topics of race, gender, or ethnicity. Parents would also be able to opt their student out of a lesson they didn’t feel comfortable with. The bill’s sponsor, State Sen. Linda Rogers (R-Elkhart) recently spoke to Statehouse Reporter Kristen Eskow on her willingness to make changes.

“I’ll be working on it in the Senate, it will have in my opinion significant changes,” Sen. Rogers said. “I’ve been working with… countless teachers. I’m a former teacher and I’m looking at it through the lens of the teacher, the administrator, and the parent.”

sen. Rogers went on to say that although HB 1134 will go through negotiations with numerous groups, it will still have a positive impact on Hoosier parents and educators.

“I’m hoping that, in the end, the legislation will be something that everyone can look at and say, ‘This improves education,’” Sen. Rogers said. “I’m one that likes to listen to the concerns of everyone and ensure that it’s making a positive impact, not a negative one.”

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