Speaker Michael Madigan says he has no plans to resign in the wake of allegations his political operation slow-walked an investigation of a staffer alleging sexual harassment by a supervisor.
Madigan says he became aware of Alaina Hampton’s allegations against Kevin Quinn, whom Madigan fired Monday, when he got a letter at his home from Hampton in November of last year. He turned the letter over to his political attorney.
“And within days, [Heather Wier Vaught] opened an investigation at my request and met with Ms. Hampton and proceeded with her investigation,” Madigan said.
Hampton said she felt there was a cover up because of how long it took for there to be a response. She also said she felt retaliated against for speaking up by having a political oversight job given to someone else.
State Rep. Scott Drury, D-Highwood, who’s also running for attorney general, said Madigan should resign.
“The fact is that he rules this house with an iron fist,” Drury said. “And there’s no way this harassment was going on in this capitol, in his ward organization, without him knowing about it.”
Drury was the lone Democrat not to vote for Madigan to be House speaker in 2017.
“It’s not OK for us to just turn our heads and say, ‘Oh, maybe we need an investigations, maybe we should look further into it,’” Drury said. “We know the facts, and if he really cared about the Democratic Party, if he really cared about Illinois, he’d step down.”
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris Kennedy said Madigan should step down as party chair.
Madigan dismissed the criticism, saying he’s staying put. The speaker said Drury and Kennedy are doing the bidding of Gov. Bruce Rauner.
As the #MeToo movement did last fall, sexual harassment allegations in Springfield have sparked new conversations about possible changes to the state’s harassment policies. This time, there are eyes on including more guidance not just for government, but for political organizations.
State Rep. Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago, is concerned about how long Hampton had to wait to get answers to her accusations.
“The question of when she came forward and how long it took to process this, this is why women are afraid to come forward,” Cassidy said. “This culture is that toxic, and most folks don’t know who to talk to. She said she didn't know who to go to, and I validate that completely.”
Cassidy said more updates are needed to the state’s harassment policies across public, private and political sectors.