Indiana Rep. Threatens Opponent for Campaigning With Drag Queens

Jim Banks and Courtney Tritch

Indiana Republican Congressman Jim Banks has filed an ethics complaint against Democratic opponent Courtney Tritch — and it involved drag queens.

The complaint centers over "undocumented cash campaign donations" Tritch received at a campaign event that was held in a Fort Wayne, Ind., gay bar and featured drag performances, according to the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette

At the fundraiser, billed as “The Queen’s Court: Campaigning Is a Drag,” Tritch delivered a speech regarding her stance on progressive issues, after which she danced with a drag queen on stage and accepted cash “tips” from fundraiser attendees. Banks's campaign got wind of what went on at the event from a video that was posted online. 

Banks, who’s held his office since 2017 in antigay Mike Pence’s home state, assailed Tritch for her playful acknowledgment of LGBTQ people and queer culture, claiming that not only was her display offensive to families, but that it constituted a violation since she won’t be able to trace who gave her the “tip” money. 

"Not only is this video deeply disturbing and offensive but it clearly shows Democrat Courtney Tritch illegally accepting undocumented cash campaign donations while she dances on stage with a drag queen," Banks’s campaign manager Steve Justus said in a statement. 

"We are exploring FEC violations and looking at filing a complaint. In the meantime, Ms. Tritch may want to consider apologizing for this charade to the northeastern Indiana families she’s campaigning to represent," he added.

But Banks and his team failed to do their homework, since the Federal Exchange Commission states that candidates are not required to keep records for donations of $50 or less, according to the Journal Gazette.

Tritch’s campaign manager David Myles explained that voters in the district where Tritch is running threw the drag fundraiser for her. He also blatantly calling out Banks for his anti-LGBTQ bias. 

"What is disturbing though is the clear homophobia demonstrated by Rep. Banks," Myles told the Journal Gazette. "In asking for an apology to the families of the 3rd District, he is stating that the LGBTQ community is excluded from his idea of family. If he would like to discuss his views on LGBTQ rights, as well as his positions on affordable health care, strong public schools, and high-wage jobs, he can agree to debate Courtney in person this fall, as we’ve requested multiple times."

To date, Banks has declined to debate Tritch even once.

Just this summer, Banks was part of a conservative group of Republicans who vocally opposed changing language in the Indiana Republican Party’s platform that would have made the platform more inclusive of LGBTQ people by dropping the current language that reads, "marriage [is] between a man and a woman."

Early in the campaign, Tritch challenged Banks to six debates, which he agreed to but has thus far failed to find time for in his schedule with just two months until the election. 

Responding to Tritch’s request to debate Banks, his spokesperson attacked her for being a single woman without children. 

“Congressman Banks looks forward to debating Ms. Tritch and plans are in the works with multiple media outlets to host these debates as she well knows. The more voters hear the contrast between Ms. Tritch’s radical socialist, pro-abortion and pro-amnesty views and Congressman Banks’ effective and consistent conservative record, the more likely the Congressman will see another landslide election victory in November,” the spokesperson said. 

“Unlike Ms. Tritch, Congressman Banks has a family and a job and that job is serving the people of northeast Indiana. As we’ve said before, there will be plenty of opportunity to debate at the appropriate time.”

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