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Duckworth case settled for fees, costs

Monday, Jun 27, 2016

* Pearson

A potentially politically embarrassing civil lawsuit against Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Tammy Duckworth, alleging workplace retaliation during her time as head of the state Department of Veterans Affairs, was settled Friday for $26,000 from the state, with no finding of wrongdoing.

Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office, representing Duckworth in the case, said in a statement that during a pre-trial settlement conference in Downstate Union County “it became clear that we could resolve this matter… for nuisance value — saving the state the costs of lawyers preparing for and trying the case.”

Madigan spokeswoman Maura Possley said the $26,000 award to two workers at the Anna Veteran’s Home “will cover attorney’s fees and all costs,” and the “settlement is based on the agreement that there is no finding of a violation of the law.”

The lawsuit, which had been scheduled for trial mid-August, had been the dominant theme of Republican U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk’s early attacks on Duckworth, currently a two-term congresswoman from Hoffman Estates, as he seeks re-election.

They settled for fees and costs, meaning the plaintiffs didn’t get a dime.

* But that isn’t stopping the Kirk campaign…

“We now know that there are 26,000 reasons why Tammy Duckworth was guilty. The simple truth is that if Tammy Duckworth was innocent, she would not have settled this case. Instead of taking the stand and testifying, Duckworth has chosen to stay silent and settle the case at taxpayer expense in order to hide from the truth. Duckworth’s actions have cost Illinois taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars while prolonging the legacy of Rod Blagojevich corruption.”

* And Sen. Kirk had this to say to WGN TV

“If you’re innocent, you will demand to testify, and the people of Illinois deserve to see this Blagojevich official be on the stand and under oath.”

* But

Duckworth’s campaign on Friday called the case a “frivolous workplace case that dragged on over eight years.” Campaign spokesman Matt McGrath pointed the finger at the Kirk campaign for telling voters the case was about Duckworth endangering the care of veterans and that taxpayers would be on the hook for a six-figure settlement.

“Kirk had clearly pinned his desperate campaign hopes on what a federal judge deemed a ‘garden variety workplace case,’ and now it’s clear he’s got nothing left to offer Illinois families,” McGrath said.

Your thoughts?

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Dee Lay - Monday, Jun 27, 16 @ 9:23 am:

    “Blagojevich official”
    This is literally all they have to work with at this point.

    Good luck with that Senator.

  2. - Gruntled University Employee - Monday, Jun 27, 16 @ 9:24 am:

    For Kirk things just went from bad to worse.

  3. - too obvious - Monday, Jun 27, 16 @ 9:25 am:

    It was a civil case. The terms “innocent” and “guilty” don’t apply. A defendant is either liable, or not.

    Mark Kirk and his people obviously know that. They just want people to think it was a criminal case. Just more dishonesty.

  4. - Way Way Down Here - Monday, Jun 27, 16 @ 9:26 am:

    You’d think Kirk would have something better than this to work with.

  5. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Jun 27, 16 @ 9:27 am:

    Dear Kev,

    Tough break. Keep plugging.


    To the Post,

    It’s all but a dead issue now. If the Kirk Crew wants to go full Blagojevich or try to stretch this settlement out, that’s a lot of stretching.

    It’s still June!

    The Kirk Crew needs to recalibrate and move on. Otherwise, by August, this issue will not only be stale, the campaign for Kirk will be growing mold on itself if they keep along selling the weeks old bread.

    Move on.

  6. - Stark - Monday, Jun 27, 16 @ 9:29 am:

    Stick a fork in him, Kirk’s done.

  7. - peets - Monday, Jun 27, 16 @ 9:32 am:

    duckworth had to to dodge the trial and she did. but don’t think this is a clean bill of health

  8. - Robert the Bruce - Monday, Jun 27, 16 @ 9:33 am:

    Done as a real issue. Not done as an attack ad (”Taxpayer money was used to settle quietly…”)

  9. - A guy - Monday, Jun 27, 16 @ 9:35 am:

    This was the best possible outcome for Tammy. This should have been done years ago. It’s still an issue to talk about, but a flicker compared to a flame.

    It’s time to go after her record and her votes. That’s where there is some oxygen here. Her career has not been distinguished in the Congress. Not even a little. Go hard in that direction.

  10. - confused - Monday, Jun 27, 16 @ 9:38 am:

    This does make you wonder why the Duckworth campaign let the legal situation go as far as it did; unintentional? The story has been picked up enough where it exists as a black spot on her campaign. Weird strategy on their part.

  11. - Demoralized - Monday, Jun 27, 16 @ 9:42 am:

    If they settled for costs only then I question the strength of their case. If they had a strong case then why settle for something that doesn’t give them even a little bit of money?

    As for those saying why not settle this earlier, you don’t always get to do what you want if the AG is representing you.

  12. - wordslinger - Monday, Jun 27, 16 @ 9:48 am:

    –They settled for fees and costs, meaning the plaintiffs didn’t get a dime.–

    They got out from under their lawyers; that’s it.

    If I were Kirk, I wouldn’t waste what little money I have on this. The incumbent is a bro with no dough.

  13. - slow down - Monday, Jun 27, 16 @ 9:55 am:

    They settled for fees and costs. After two prior dismissals, and finally finding a court that would let the case move forward, they settled for fees and costs. That tells you all you need to know about the strength of their case.

    What this means is that Kirk will actually have to run on his own record and lord knows he doesn’t want to have to do that this November. This hasn’t looked like a competitive race for sometime but there was always the chance the trial might shake things up. No more.

  14. - Michael Westen - Monday, Jun 27, 16 @ 10:01 am:

    Losing issue for a losing campaign. No regular voters cared about the suit before, and they certainly won’t care about it now.

  15. - IL Resident - Monday, Jun 27, 16 @ 10:09 am:

    Duckworth using innocent taxpayer money to pay for her settlement?? What else will she take from us if she gets a seat in the Senate?

  16. - Libertarian - Monday, Jun 27, 16 @ 10:11 am:

    This means my money, going to the government, going to Tammy, is funding her settlement. Not entirely sure how I feel about that.

  17. - illini97 - Monday, Jun 27, 16 @ 10:13 am:

    This takes away one hammer Kirk had for Duckworth. Now he’s stuck trying to thread that needle between being called a Republican in Chicago or a RINO downstate.

    With Trump at the top of the ticket? Good luck walking that line.

  18. - Anonymous - Monday, Jun 27, 16 @ 10:15 am:

    A big but expected political win for Duckworth. Still leaves Illinois voters with another unappealing choice.

  19. - Soccermom - Monday, Jun 27, 16 @ 10:30 am:

    Word — that was cute.

  20. - Joe Bidenopolous - Monday, Jun 27, 16 @ 10:39 am:

    ===It’s time to go after her record and her votes. That’s where there is some oxygen here. Her career has not been distinguished in the Congress. Not even a little. Go hard in that direction.===

    Good luck with that. Remind me again of Kirk’s stellar legislative accomplishments?

  21. - JoanP - Monday, Jun 27, 16 @ 10:49 am:

    @Il Resident and Libertarian -

    Would you rather a whole lot more taxpayer money be spent on trying the case? I guarantee you it would cost us a lot more than $26,000, even if (as was likely) the AG won.

    Not to mention that the AG’s employees can now stop wasting their time on this nuisance suit.

  22. - anon - Monday, Jun 27, 16 @ 10:53 am:

    Municipalities settle lawsuits for fees and costs all the time. If that means they are guilty, it’s news to municipal officials who see it as a cheaper way to go than litigating to the max. Let’s face it, this was Kirk’s only hope, and it’s gone, so Artl is desperately trying to milk it for any value by attributing guilt where it doesn’t exist.

  23. - Soccermom - Monday, Jun 27, 16 @ 10:55 am:

    Oh for heaven’s sake. If you’re innocent, you want to take the stand? No, if you’re innocent, you just want it all to go away.

    Kirk, figure out something else. You just sound ridiculous.

  24. - @MisterJayEm - Monday, Jun 27, 16 @ 11:16 am:

    “Well, the lawsuit settled — so what’s our Plan B?”
    “Hmmm… we could have Sen. Kirk run on his record?”
    “Okay, what’s our Plan C?”

    – MrJM

  25. - Federalist - Monday, Jun 27, 16 @ 11:21 am:

    Don’t think I would want to work under Duckworth as she strikes me as rather vindictive type. But in the scale of Illinois politics this whole case was much to do about very little.

  26. - here we go - Monday, Jun 27, 16 @ 11:31 am:

    If yesterday’s Pride Parade is an indication of anything — Kirk had about 20 or so volunteers with him, whereas Duckworth had twice as many.

    To the post, the Senator needs to move on.

  27. - Clark - Monday, Jun 27, 16 @ 11:36 am:

    ===It’s time to go after her record and her votes. That’s where there is some oxygen here. Her career has not been distinguished in the Congress. Not even a little. Go hard in that direction.===

    I live in her district and she has literally done nothing for us. Her record is almost nonexistent and I do not wish upon Illinois another politician who will do nothing for us. As much as I appreciate her service to this country, she cannot run for office based solely on her military record.

  28. - Rasselas - Monday, Jun 27, 16 @ 12:58 pm:

    Clark - what were you expecting her to do “for you” in your district? A military base? A new federal building? A Congresswoman basically casts her votes on the bills that come before the House consistent with her view of what is best for the district. Did she not do that? (When you’re in the minority, under House rules, it’s not like you’re going to sponsor and pass major legislation.)

  29. - Anonymous - Monday, Jun 27, 16 @ 1:00 pm:

    To the post - my experience is that government lawyers (State’s Attorney and Attorney General) settle cases at their own discretion. I.e., I’m not sure Duckworth could have instigated nor prevented a settlement that the AG’s office thought was in the best interests of the State. Perhaps, because of who she is, the AG might defer, but generally, no.

  30. - David Davis - Monday, Jun 27, 16 @ 1:28 pm:

    Congresswoman Duckworth’s brief, colorless record in Congress will be a burden moving forward. Unlike this case, that will not go away before the election in November.

  31. - Plankton - Monday, Jun 27, 16 @ 2:59 pm:

    We cannot have politicians like Duckworth in office, who will follow the corrupt footsteps of Blagojevich.”

  32. - Arsenal - Monday, Jun 27, 16 @ 3:15 pm:

    ==Congresswoman Duckworth’s brief, colorless record in Congress will be a burden moving forward. ==

    Ha ha, yes, because long, controversial Congressional careers are the things dream candidates are made of.

  33. - burbanite - Monday, Jun 27, 16 @ 9:02 pm:

    To all the posters criticizing Duckworth for this you need a reality check. This is clearly a win. They had no case and it would cost the government well over the 26 k to go to trial to prove what this settlement proves, plaintiff’s case was so weak they agreed to take nothing themself. People sue te government and govt officials all the time and get nuisance settlements Chicago is a prime offender throwing out 50 k on nuisance cases. Kirk is out of gas and sounding desperate.

  34. - Roscoe Tom - Monday, Jun 27, 16 @ 9:40 pm:

    Kirk the wannabee decorated warrior and previous expert on all military matters until a true woman warrior came on the scene and shut his false bravdo mouth and left him with a limp VFW hat on his limp military service record should just shut up on veteran matters since he was only a convenient soldier with special privileges as a congressional aide. Give it up KIrk, your playing soldier boy is oh so old.

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