Following the Indiana Daily Student breaking accusations of sexual harassment against county commissioner Amanda Barge last week, uncertainties about Bloomington’s mayoral election and more have arisen.
A former county contractor, Brandon Drake, came forward with allegations that Barge sexually harassed him for more than a year.
Since the story broke, Barge and her campaign have not responded to multiple requests for comment from the IDS.
Here’s what happened next.
Mayoral campaign suspended
Less than 24 hours after the story broke, Barge announced she would suspend her mayoral campaign in a Facebook post.
The Facebook account where the announcement was posted has since been deleted along with the rest of Barge’s campaign social media.
What this means for the election
Barge’s name will still appear on ballots, according to the Indiana Election Division. She could still win the mayoral primary.
Since she suspended her campaign instead of withdrawing from the race, she could choose to start campaigning again at any time.
If Barge wins the primary, she would have until July 15 to withdraw from the November municipal election ballot.
Local political groups and individuals have responded to the allegations against Barge in various ways.
The Monroe County Legal Department released a statement Thursday evening on behalf of the county commissioners and the health department. The statement detailed Drake’s work with both entities.
The six-page statement did not directly address any allegations that Barge sexually harassed Drake.
Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton released a statement Tuesday that read, “Brandon Drake showed courage in coming forward to report a disturbing pattern of behavior that he suffered.”
The Democratic Women’s Caucus, which endorsed Barge’s campaign about two weeks ago, withdrew its endorsement Thursday.
The Monroe County Democratic Party released a statement saying it was “disheartened and upset” in light of the allegations against Barge.
The statement said the county party’s leadership is working to organize an event on sexual harassment and abuse of power.
Black Lives Matter Bloomington also posted a statement on its Facebook page in support of Drake.
“This article is a detailed account of a deeply abusive white woman politician who has used her position, political power and white womanhood as a weapon,” the statement read.
What this means for the county commissioners
Barge told Indiana Public Media she will not resign from her seat on the Monroe County Board of Commissioners.
Under Indiana law, county officers — including county commissioners — "are liable to impeachment for any misdemeanor in office.”
It is not clear whether she committed a misdemeanor while in office.
Barge was absent from Wednesday’s meeting of the Monroe County Board of Commissioners. The board did not address the allegations.
Brandon Drake reacts
Drake said the response he’s received since the article published has been mostly positive, with a few exceptions.
“I’ll go out on a limb and say 90 percent of the community is speaking out against what happened to me,” Drake said. “Overwhelmingly, I’ve felt loved by this community.”
He said he’s ashamed of the county and Barge’s responses to the story and thinks they would’ve made different statements if he were a woman.
Drake said it also upsets him to see people saying he came forward with his allegations for political reasons. He said that’s ridiculous because he’s never supported Hamilton.
He also said he doesn’t want to see anyone hurt in this, even Barge. He said he hopes the people who are attacking him will redirect their energy toward making sure she gets the help she needs.
Out of all of this, Drake said he hopes Bloomington and Monroe County will draft new laws to protect independent contractors from sexual harassment.
“You’re the progressive, shining light city on the hill in Indiana,” Drake said. “Change the laws.”
He said it’s important to him that if and when those conversations happen, independent contractors and those who have been affected by sexual harassment have a seat at the table.
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