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Holcomb 'stunned' after Rokita said he doesn't trust COVID-19 data

"If someone has a question, they need to raise that question with us and we will answer it."
rokita holcomb.png
Posted at 4:33 PM, Dec 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-29 16:52:36-05

INDIANAPOLIS — Gov. Eric Holcomb said he was "stunned and somewhat blindsided" by Attorney General Todd Rokita's comments earlier this month that he does not trust the COVID-19 numbers.

In an interview with WSBT in South Bend on Dec. 17, Rokita said "I don't believe any numbers anymore and I'm sorry about that, but they're politicized. This has been politicized since day one."

In a statement released to WRTV on Dec. 22 through his spokesperson following the interview, Rokita said in part, "the fact that a significant number of Hoosiers’ and myself don’t trust the COVID numbers, isn’t my fault, nor is it the fault of Hoosiers’."

"Unfortunately, talking heads and politicians who want to control others’ behavior have created distrust by advocating for unscientific mandates and lockdowns, while hurting hard working families and children along the way," the statement read.

Holcomb made his first public comments in response to Rokita when asked about them during the state COVID-19 update Wednesday.

"Especially in these life and death decisions that Hoosiers are making on a day in, day out basis, they have to have a place of trust, they have to have a place they can go to for data integrity. The state department of health puts that out," Holcomb said. "Misinformation or disinformation is obviously, by definition, counterproductive to getting through this safely ... it's quite serious when you accuse or insinuate anyone of inflating numbers. In my book, that's called fraud. If there's a shred of evidence, he or others need to take that to the Inspector General of the State of Indiana."

Holcomb went on to say that anyone spreading misinformation or disinformation regarding the state's reporting "is just attempting to fan the flames of confusion and that's exactly what we don't need at this time."

"If someone has a question, they need to raise that question with us and we will answer it," he said. "We do this every day in all 92 counties ... it is demoralizing to accuse someone of wrongdoing ... if you don't understand it, then ask a question."

On Dec. 28, Rokita tweeted that he "stand[s] by the concerns of a significant number of Hoosiers and Americans about the politicization of COVID reporting." His full Twitter thread is below.

Holcomb said he hasn't reached out to Rokita and Rokita hasn't reached out to him. When asked if he plans to, Holcomb said "no."

"I'll let him speak for himself ... when he said he didn't believe any numbers, I take the state as included in any numbers. If he doesn't believe that, he could very simply clear it up and say very clearly, one sentence, 'I believe the numbers that come out of the Indiana State Department of Health.' That's it," Holcomb said. "If there's any accusation otherwise, that becomes legal very quickly and he needs to get it to the Inspector General and they can clear it up. If it is confusion, we can help. We can help, and that goes for anyone in the State of Indiana."

Following Wednesday's briefing, Rokita released the following statement through a spokesperson to WRTV:

"A lack of global standardization of the data and non-uniform use of criteria is an industry-wide management issue, not an Inspector General Issue. This isn’t about fraud, it’s about inaccurate numbers and political agendas causing doubt.”

Gov. Holcomb calls on Indiana AG to clarify comments

The Indiana Democratic Party released the following statement on Dec. 23 following Rokita's WSBT interview.

"Indiana Republicans like Todd Rokita have worked overtime all year to smear a life-saving vaccine for political gain - and now the unvaccinated who believed them are suffering and dying because of this extreme partisanship. Make no mistake: Todd Rokita's attempt to discredit COVID-19 cases is dangerous and presents an ignorance that is disqualifying for anyone holding elected office. These partisan comments are a slap in the face to the more than 18,000 Hoosier families who have lost someone during this pandemic, and unfortunately, it appears Rokita would rather gaslight the public than tell Hoosiers the truth -- and all just to win elections. It's simply un-American."

Lauren Ganapini, executive director for the Indiana Democratic Party