For years, the rumors about Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, and a female intern were as much a part of the Statehouse as the building’s stone walls and marble floors.
Everyone had heard the story about the young woman performing oral sex on the rising political star. Jokes circulated like the air moving through the ventilation system.
Each time Bosma delivered, as has been his penchant, a pronouncement on the sanctity of marriage or yet another lecture on old-fashioned morals, the whispers and the snickers gained new life.
But, for more than two decades, that’s where the story stayed, an undercurrent in the life and flow of the people’s house, never on the surface, but also never too far below it.
Until a few days ago, that is.
That’s when The Indianapolis Star reported that Bosma had spent $40,000 in campaign funds on legal fees trying to “contain” the former intern’s story. The intern, Kandy Green, says Bosma’s lawyers and others tried to bully and intimidate her into silence. Green says Bosma’s team sent people around to her family, her friends and her ex-husband to dig up dirt on her.
Bosma denies everything.
So does his lawyer.
And 64 Republican legislators and former lawmakers, with some prompting from Bosma’s camp, have signed a letter signaling support for the speaker.
Bosma’s explanation, in the rare moments when he has broken his silence on the matter, comes straight out of Bizarro world.
He says he spent $40,000 in campaign cash because he didn’t want to be reading about the intern’s allegations in the paper.
But, every journalist in the state had heard the stories about him and Green and hadn’t reported on them for more than a quarter-century. They weren’t considered news until Bosma spent something close to the median income for a Hoosier family of four trying to cover things up and, according to her, scare Green into not talking.
It may have been the attempt to cover things up that got the speaker into trouble.
It so often works that way.
Bosma’s situation puts Indiana Republicans in an awkward position.
Earlier this year, Bosma and his fellow Republicans Gov. Eric Holcomb and Indiana Senate President Pro Tempore David Long called on Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill, another Republican, to resign. Hill had been accused of sexual misconduct. Four different women, including a state legislator, have accused the attorney general of groping and pawing them at a party.
Hill denies the accusation and has refused to resign.
Several investigations into the matter have begun and seem to be moving at a pace that would make a glacier proud.
At a press conference the day after the Star story broke, Holcomb fielded question after question about Bosma. The governor fielded them with all the grace of a rhinoceros trying to dance “Swan Lake.”
Holcomb said he didn’t see the need for an investigation. He suggested there was a difference between Hill’s situation and Bosma’s but couldn’t articulate what that difference was.
The governor looked like a man who desperately wanted to find the exit.
Who can blame him?
Who would want to comment on a story this sordid featuring this much sheer stupidity?
The reality is that not much of substance is likely to change because of Bosma’s brain fade.
Given that Bosma’s alleged dalliance with the intern was one of the worst-kept secrets in the state, most voters and, perhaps more important, most donors have shown they are comfortable with the speaker’s “do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do” style of leadership.
He faces no real political jeopardy.
He may have committed an indiscretion by spending campaign funds the way he did, but Indiana’s laws regarding such matters are worse than a joke. If he even gets a slap on the wrist, I’ll be shocked.
The worst that will happen is that he’ll be embarrassed again and again. The whispers will be spoken out loud. The laughs at his expense no longer will be suppressed.
Doubtless, that will be unpleasant for the speaker and he’ll rail, as he already has, against the journalists who broke the story.
He gives the reporters too much credit and himself not enough.
Brian Bosma didn’t make the story hard to find.
He dropped 40,000 breadcrumbs leading the reporters right to it.
John Krull is director of Franklin College’s Pulliam School of Journalism and publisher of TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.