Sara Love, a candidate running for delegate in Bethesda-based District 16, has accused Del. Charles Barkley (D-Germantown) of inappropriate contact with her while she worked as a lobbyist for the American Civil Liberties Union.
Love told The Washington Post that Barkley, “pulled me in too close, held me too long and gave a sloppy wet kiss on my cheek … . His behavior crossed the line. It was inappropriate.”
Love said the incident happened while she worked as an ACLU lobbyist from 2013 to 2016.
Barkley could not immediately be reached for comment by Bethesda Beat Monday. He has served as the delegate from District 39 since 1999 and is the chair of the alcoholic beverages subcommittee. This year he’s running for an at-large seat on the Montgomery County Council.
Barkley denied the allegations to the Post and said he didn’t believe any of his behavior with Love “crossed the line.”
“She would give me a hug. I would give her a hug,” he told the paper. “I don’t remember doing anything other than that … . It sounds like I made her uncomfortable. If I did, I’m sorry about that.”
On Monday, Love told Bethesda Beat she decided to come forward with the allegations because she wants the General Assembly to make changes to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future.
“I feel if we’re going to make real change, then some of these names need to be named,” Love said. “I did it for my daughter. I don’t want her to have to go through what I’ve gone through.”
Love also said: “What I really want is for the leadership to take this seriously and make meaningful reform.”
She said allegations against Barkley are “not something that’s unknown in the halls of Annapolis.”
Former District 39 Del. Saqib Ali alleged in a public Facebook discussion that Barkley had inappropriately touched other women. The Daily Record reported last week about the Facebook exchange in which Ali reportedly described Barkley as “one of the biggest creeps. He has a reputation for touching younger women in uncomfortable ways like rubbing their shoulders, etc.”
Barkley denied Ali’s allegations and said Ali may still be waging a political vendetta against him after Barkley supported Ali’s challenger, now-Sen. Nancy King, in the District 39 state Senate race in 2010. Ali lost by just over 200 votes to King in the Democratic primary.
Love’s accusations surfaced as state Sen. Cheryl Kagan (D-Rockville) accused Annapolis lobbyist and former District 16 delegate Gil Genn of inappropriately touching her at a bar in Annapolis last week.
Last month, the Women’s Caucus of the General Assembly released a 38-page report recommending the legislature overhaul its training programs regarding sexual harassment and discrimination, as well develop an anonymous reporting system so individuals feel more comfortable coming forward after incidents.
The report also calls for leadership to take additional steps to hold accountable those members who engage in sexual harassment.
Love said since coming forward with her story she has not been contacted by the leadership in the General Assembly, although she said she is open to discussing her experience with the legislative leaders.