INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.-- The leader of the Indiana House of Representatives is at the center of an accusation in which a former intern says she was intimidated over a decades old sexual encounter, and that House Speaker Brian Bosma used campaign funds to do it, according to a report published by our media partners at the Indianapolis Star.
"For us it really came down to the fact that House Speaker Brian Bosma is someone who holds a lot of power at the legislature and who's had a hand in issues related to sexual harassment," Indianapolis Star reporter Tony Cook said.
According to the article, a former intern, who identified herself as Kandy Green, claims she had a sexual encounter with then Representative Bosma in 1992. IndyStar reporters reached out to Bosma in December after hearing Green's account.
"We learned that he hired an attorney paid for with $40,000 in campaign funds in part to gather unflattering information about this woman," Cook said.
She did not accuse Bosma of a crime, but family members of the woman said his attorney, Linda Pence, and investigators threatened to reveal unflattering information about her if her account became public and expose her name even if news organizations withheld it, according to the report.
Campaign finance reports CBS4 News obtained show more than $44,000 paid to Smith Amundsen, where Pence works, in January and March of 2018.
Speaker Bosma released this statement:
"This unsubstantiated story from over 26 years ago is unequivocally false. It wasn’t true then and it’s not true now. The source of this claim has been entirely discredited on several occasions and no responsible journalist would publish it. My engagement of Linda Pence, a well-respected attorney and Democrat, was for the purpose of protecting my reputation from a false story by the Indianapolis Star.”
Cook said they also received a two-page letter from Pence, in which she denies threatening or harassing anyone and that she undertook what she described as a professional investigation.
But reaction from state Democrats has been swift.
Indiana Democratic Party Chairman John Zody called for the governor to take action with an impartial investigation into the allegation of intimidation. Zody released this statement:
“We believe that Speaker Bosma’s actions appear to be tactics used to intimidate. That women must fear coercion and strong-arming by powerful elected officials to discredit and deter them from coming forward is sickening. If the allegations of intimidation are true, they are deeply troubling. What’s clear is there are more questions than answers here. In the past, Governor Holcomb has rightfully supported a ‘thorough’ investigation into similar matters. The governor must step up and lead by calling for an exhaustive, impartial investigation into this serious allegation of intimidation.”
CBS4 reached out to a number of state lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.
"Obviously I don't know what happened 10 or 20 years ago. I'm particularly disturbed by the suggestion that campaign funds were spent to conduct an investigation of someone that could not have been designed to be kind to them and apparently is interpreted as intimidation which is understandable. ," State Rep. Ed DeLaney (D) said.
"We have got to treat our junior staff, our interns and all of our staff, but especially our young people, we have got to treat them properly and decently. I'm worried about that," DeLaney went on to say.
DeLaney said the Republican super majority must deal with this.
"We've not had a situation where the speaker has been accused of misconduct whether long ago or currently. Of course the current allegation is both current and troubling that there may have been some intimidation here, that's yet to be learned," DeLaney said.
CBS4 reached out to Republican lawmakers as well as the governor for comment, but we have not heard back at this time.