Wells says incumbent Todd Rokita has used office’s powers for ‘overzealous witch hunt’
| Indiana Capital Chronicle
For The Republic
INDIANAPOLIS — Democrat Destiny Wells on Monday announced that she’s running for Indiana attorney general. It’s the party executive, lawyer and veteran’s second bid for public office; she lost a 2022 race for secretary of state.
Wells said incumbent Republican Todd Rokita has used his powers “in an abusive way” — and said that as attorney general, she’d “get back to serving Hoosiers” instead of using the office as a “platform for national talking points.”
The campaign will focus on medical privacy, workers’ rights, and ethical standards, according to Wells.
“We are looking to protect medical privacy for all Hoosiers, and not to use the office in an abusive way (by) asking for investigative demands,” Wells said during a livestream event.
The office’s work, she added, “is not supposed to be an overzealous witch hunt.”
She also said it’s time for a “fresh look” at how the office can better serve residents — and proposed a new division dedicated to labor law. The office could also work with other state agencies and local law enforcement to crack down on wage theft and worker misclassification, Wells said.
And Wells said she’d “restore the highest ethical standard” to the office — drawing a stark contrast between herself and Rokita.
She noted that this month, Rokita became the second straight attorney general to earn reprimand from the Indiana Supreme Court for his televised comments about Indianapolis obstetrician-gynecologist Caitlin Bernard. The court in 2020 suspended predecessor Curtis Hill’s law license for 30 days, as punishment for committing the criminal act of battery and for violating other professional conduct rules.
Wells is from Morgan County. She enlisted in the Army National Guard at 19, then joined the Army ROTC. She’s held a variety of military contracting, intelligence and law positions since then, and has served as a lieutenant colonel since 2003, according to her LinkedIn.
She’s also a lawyer and has held several related positions — including as a deputy attorney general for government litigation. She is currently the Indiana Democratic Party’s deputy chair for coalitions and expansion.
As a Democrat, she faces an uphill battle. The party hasn’t won a statewide race since 2012.
Democrats hoped Wells would change that in 2022. Although Morales in 2022 racked up dozens of negative allegations and headlines 2022, he became secretary of state with about 54% of the vote to Wells’ 40%, according to The New York Times.
The most recent Democrat attorney general was Karen Freeman-Wilson, who left office in 2001.
The Indiana Republican Party slammed her entry into the race.
“After being overwhelmingly rejected by Hoosier voters … in 2022, Democrat Destiny Wells is now running for the next available statewide office, attorney general,” GOP Chair Anne Hathaway said in a written statement. “Time and again, Democrat Destiny Wells has used her leadership positions in the Indiana Democrat Party to try and push the radical Joe Biden agenda across the state. Indiana Republicans are looking forward to a robust campaign in which we will continue to support the rule of law and the Indiana Constitution.”
Wells said she is “much better positioned” for her second campaign because she is beginning further ahead of Election Day and with a team and network already in place, instead of starting “from scratch.”
She said the campaign would focus more on voter education after seeing how many Hoosiers pulled straight-ticket ballots rather than voting for each office individually. Indiana is one of six states to offer straight-ticket voting.
And she’ll focus more on fundraising, commenting that it costs a lot of money to be able to meet voters.
“Nothing stings more than trying to fundraise and run all around the state all year only for a voter to say, ‘Why am I just hearing about you?’ and it’s the day before the election,” Wells told reporters.
Correction: A previous version of this article contained inaccurate vote shares for the 2022 secretary of state race. Morales earned 54% of the vote and Wells 40%.
— The Indiana Capital Chronicle covers state government and the state legislature. For more, visit indianacapitalchronicle.com.