The Democratic Senators have closed ranks behind Speaker Michael Madigan after continued scandals threatened to destroy legislative and political operations. The scandal began in February when the Speaker asked Kevin Quinn, his long-time operative in politics to leave. This announcement was made before there were public accusations that Quinn made multiple unwanted advances towards Alaina Hampton, a campaign staffer.
Matters came to a head when Hampton was given permission by Equal Employment Opportunity Commission the right to file a case against the political operations of Madigan. Her spokesperson has confirmed that she is presently working with the legal team to consider all options as she wants to change the sexist culture which protected her harasser.
To compound Madigan's problems, yet another political operative other than Quinn was accused of similar charges. Shaw Decremer was discovered to have acted in an inappropriate manner towards a certain campaign staff and political candidate. It was easier to sack him as he was simply a volunteer. The last week of February saw Madigan hold a news conference which outlined nine instances of the so-called wrongdoing in his legislative office over past five years. This list of accusations included manipulation, harassment, intimidation, retaliation, and unwanted advances. Vague details came into the light after a number of internal reviews.
Critics pointed out that the review was not inclusive of all complaint categories. Instances of omission include complaints made by one member towards another and complaints against a lobbyist by a member. It also ignored staff complaints regarding derogatory comments or the manner of treatment. Complaints against other caucus leaders, caucus staff or caucus members are ignored. Also excluded are the unresolved complaints. When Madison was asked about these, and whether there is a culture conducive to such attitudes, he said that the Democratic Party does not tolerate any inappropriate behavior.
Ethics and struggle
The document which outlined these cases said that staffers who are accused of any wrongdoing must be counseled by the ethics officer or closely monitored. Scott Drury, a State Representative and elected Democrat from Highwood, said Madigan must resign from his position. He expressed frustration that government leaders from Illinois are not held to high standards similar to other industries. He pushed for a special counsel independent from Democrat power structures to investigate allegations of misconduct, harassment, and abuse in the political and state government organizations.