INDIANAPOLIS – Gov. Eric Holcomb on Thursday declined to call out House Speaker Brian Bosma over allegations of infidelity and intimidation that surfaced this week.
The Indianapolis Star published a story Wednesday saying Bosma engaged in a sexual encounter with an intern 26 years ago and recently used campaign funds to hire an attorney to investigate the woman.
"I don't think it would be fair of me to comment on that story at this time having not the benefit of an actual report," the governor said "The story is all that I have the benefit of."
Holcomb said the state inspector general, who is investigating alleged inappropriate touching by Attorney General Curtis Hill earlier this year at a bar, doesn't have jurisdiction over the legislature.
The governor, along with Bosma and Senate President Pro Tem David Long, called for Hill to resign when the allegations that he groped a lawmaker and several legislative staffers became public.
He said the difference was that in Hill's case a confidential memo prepared by attorneys hired by legislative leaders had been leaked. It contained descriptions of interviews with the lawmaker and staffers accusing Hill of inappropriate touching.
"This is not in my court or authority," Holcomb said. "There's a process to pursue this. It's not fair for me to comment on any specifics without the benefit of a report to review."
The only option is for the House Ethics Committee to look into allegations but their work is generally private.
The Star story said Bosma paid a law firm more than $40,000 in campaign funds this year in part to gather unflattering information about the former intern, who says she performed oral sex on him during a 1992 internship for Indiana House Democrats.
Kandy Green, who is now 47 and lives outside the state, said Bosma's attorney, Linda Pence, or her investigators tracked down at least half a dozen people from her life, including a former boyfriend and an ex-husband.
When Green's family confronted Pence about that activity, they say Pence threatened to reveal the unfavorable information if Green's account became public and to expose her name even if news organizations withheld it, according to The Star.
Bosma has denied that the sexual encounter happened and said he hired Pence, a former Democratic nominee for Indiana Attorney General, to protect his reputation from a false story. She is not related to Vice President Mike Pence.
"This unsubstantiated story from over 26 years ago is unequivocally false. It wasn’t true then and it’s not true now," Bosma said in a statement, referring to the alleged sexual encounter.
Indiana Democratic Party Chairman John Zody on Wednesday called for Holcomb to demand a thorough investigation.
"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," Zody said. "If the allegations of intimidation are true, they are deeply troubling."
He also questioned whether political considerations are clouding Holcomb's judgement.
"He could have easily recommended the House Ethics Committee launch an investigation," Zody said. "Some situations demand leaders rise above the political fray to do the right thing."
Also on Thursday, the vast majority of Indiana House Republicans issued a joint statement of support for Bosma – including most northeast Indiana GOP members. The only local rep not on the list was Rep. Curt Nisly, R-Goshen - who has notoriously clashed with Bosma on other issues.