Both major party candidates for Indiana’s 9th District congressional seat say they won’t participate in a planned debate at Franklin College because the Libertarian candidate invited faces a felony charge of third-degree assault of a police officer.
Police arrested Russell Brooksbank last week in Louisville. An arrest report alleges Brooksbank was stopped after making a rude gesture to a passing Kentucky State trooper.
Republican Trey Hollingsworth says he won’t participate in the Oct. 5 Franklin College debate if it means he’ll have to share the stage with Brooksbank.
“Mr. Brooksbank’s campaign is now little more than a mechanism to pay his legal bills,” Hollingsworth’s Campaign Manager Rachel Jacobs said in a statement. “By inviting him to participate, Franklin College is enabling this distraction at the expense of a serious, issue-based debate, and that is why Trey has declined the invitation to participate.”
Democrat Shelli Yoder is also declining to participate in the debate, but says she’ll happily debate Hollingsworth at an alternate venue.
“We cannot condone any violence against members of our law enforcement community, and so it would be disrespectful to the Indiana Fraternal Order of Police, who have endorsed our campaign, to share the stage with Mr. Brooksbank,” Yoder said in a statement.
Director of Franklin College’s Pulliam School of Journalism John Krull says they’ll still host a debate if two candidates agree to come. He says it’s always been the college’s policy to invite all candidates who appear on the ballot.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.