In an interview with Tompkins Weekly, former state Senate candidate Amanda Kirchgessner claimed to have gotten an order of protection against her ex-wife, Brandi Morgan, leading up to the 2018 November election. During the campaign season for state senate, Morgan went public with allegations of domestic violence against Kirchgessner in a story published in the Ithaca Times on Oct. 2, 2018. Ultimately, Kirchgessner lost the state senate election to Republican incumbent Tom O’Mara but recently filed to run for Enfield Town Supervisor as a Democrat.
Following the March 30 story in Tompkins Weekly about Kirchgessner’s current campaign for town supervisor, Morgan shared the court documents from the temporary restraining order proceedings which show that the order was not lifted, but was actually withdrawn.
The order was originally issued on Oct. 17, 2018, but went into effect the day prior, and Morgan was summoned to appear at the Onondaga County Courthouse on Nov. 2, 2018, to answer the petition.
“After the stuff in the newspaper came out, I got this card from a police officer on my door and I called it and he just told me he needed to give me some paperwork and he wouldn’t tell me anything,” Morgan said. “He came over and he served me with the petition to get the order of protection.”
Morgan said she felt like the order was an attempt to silence her after the Ithaca Times published her allegations of abuse. She said communication between her and her ex-wife had been extremely limited. At the Nov. 2 court date, Morgan told the judge she wanted to contest the order and another date was set for later that month. While the order was in place, Morgan was not allowed to contact Kirchgessner in any way, including through a third party.
According to the court documents, Kirchgessner accused Morgan of stalking, disorderly conduct, harassment in the first or second degree, aggravated harassment in the second degree, and criminal mischief. Kirchgessner maintained her argument in the documents that Morgan was making false claims and lying about her character, and that Morgan was harassing her through text messages, certified mail, and through the news media. She also claimed that Morgan was organizing people to attack her candidacy supporters through social media, email, and text messages. In the court documents, Kirchgessner indicates that she did not file any criminal complaints concerning the incidents she was arguing supported her need for an order of protection. Morgan’s actions, Kirchgessner argued, had caused her “extreme mental duress, emotional pain, and suffering.”
Morgan claims that the text messages and certified mail that her ex-wife referred to in the court documents are texts and mail she sent in an attempt to get Kirchgessner to pay money she owes in the divorce settlement.
“I don’t talk to her at all and she doesn’t talk to me,” Morgan said about where the situation stands now. “I still need to take her back to court to get the divorce settlement money because she hasn’t paid a penny of it.”
After being served in mid-October, Morgan said she felt outraged at what she believes to be an attempt to get her to stop talking about her troubled marriage to a then-candidate in a state election.
“I just found that quite disturbing that someone who wanted to be an elected official would try to restrict someone from going to the press, and try to keep people from contacting their elected officials and asking them to support or not support someone or something,” Morgan said.
The organized harassment of Kirchgessner’s supporters argued in the documents, Morgan said, is in reference to some of Kirchgessner’s public supporters being asked to withdraw support. Morgan said this was not something that she did herself, or asked anyone else to do for her.
“That’s the right that people have, to contact their elected officials to support something, and if somebody would like to be an elected official I don’t really see how they could be against that,” Morgan said.
Following the Oct. 2 story in the Ithaca Times, Ithaca Common Council members Seph Murtagh and Ducson Nguyen both pulled their support for Kirchgessner’s campaign, as did Tompkins County legislators Shawna Black and Anne Koreman. The New York State Young Democrats also chose to rescind support for her campaign following the story.
On Dec. 6, 2018, Kirchgessner’s petition was dismissed without prejudice and the temporary order of protection was vacated after she chose to withdraw the petition.
When contacted for comment on this story, Kirchgessner chose to reply with the following statement: “I am reluctant to talk about the highly personal circumstances of the back and forth of my marriage coming apart. The story received enough attention last October, even though I saw little about the coverage that was fair. So, I am hesitant about participating again in discussing my side of a painful time in my life. Doing so will likely serve as an invitation for my ex-wife to respond yet again. I do not see any good coming from that. We both need to move on. I will say that, like anyone who has gone through a divorce or extended separation, it was a hard time requiring reflection, learning and growth. I do invite any reporter to ask me about my politics.”
Currently, incumbent Enfield town supervisor Beth McGee has filed petitions for both the Democrat and Republican lines to run for re-election. The primary election for contested state and local races will be held June 25.
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