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Rotheimer: “I understand now more clearly than before why I am the only one who named a name”

Tuesday, Nov 28, 2017

* Background is here. From an e-mail sent to me late yesterday afternoon…

Dear Rich,

I appreciate you posting my letters today. I did speak with the Ethics officer of the House Republican caucus (who mentioned my letter to Ms. Porter on Capitol Fax) to ask if Leader Durkin would be able to provide leadership on a legislative effort to implement reforms that establish a fair and balanced process for complainants. I told the EO that had I known the process would exclude me from having a voice or not being provided with information about the [Legislative Inspector General’s] report on what I said and the information I provided to her that I would never have filed a complaint.

I said that it is a reasonable request of mine to at least be informed of what the LIG has to say about me in her report and how I am being presented to the [Legislative Ethics Commission]. I also said that it is a reasonable request that I am heard by the LEC. I told the EO that I want to walk away from this process and say I felt heard and that I was treated fairly–regardless of the outcome. I understand now more clearly than before why I am the only one who named a name and if these reforms are made I don’t know why anyone else would come forward and find themselves in the situation that I am in–a situation where you don’t even get to read any portion of the report that is solely written about you, I don’t care about what Silverstein has to say or anyone else, I just want to know what is being said about me. I should at least be entitled to that. According to the rules I do not see anything that mentions me as a named party or as having any standing in this process. Below are some excerpts from the rules I copied with the link pasted below for your full review.

OPERATIONAL RULES OF THE LEGISLATIVE ETHICS COMMISSION
(as amended and effective 4-16-08)
(ARTICLE 17. INVESTIGATIONS
(i) A statement that the Legislative Inspector General’s investigatory files and reports are confidential and exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act (see 5 ILCS 430/25-90(b) and 430/25-95(d)).

If there is a hearing then the AG represents the LIG who is named as the petitioner:
ARTICLE 20. HEARINGS.
Rule 20-10. Filing requirements.
(b) The Legislative Inspector General shall be designated as “the petitioner” and the person who is alleged to have violated the Act shall be designated as “the respondent”.

The respondent is named but not me. The respondent is represented by an attorney but not me because I merely become a “witness.”

In essence if this complaint does go to a hearing then I am treated as a witness, similar to that in a criminal case because I am not named as the plaintiff, the LIG is named as the plaintiff and is represented by the AG.

As a witness there is nothing in these Rules that provides for any rights or remedies that I have throughout this entire process, including the hearing. Therefore these procedures are not fair or balanced and only favor the respondent. Why else would the accuser or complainant be completely excluded from having any entitlements (rights, due process, remedies or relief) throughout this entire process.

I do not see anything in the rules that provides me as the complainant with a voice–the right to be heard or the right to information, notification or participation in this process. The LIG becomes my voice and is named as the petitioner if a violation is found and a hearing is initiated.

Rule 20-55. Hearings.
(b) All hearings shall be closed to the public.

http://ilga.gov/commission/lec/LEC%20Rules.pdf

At this point I have no choice than to go through this process, but I at least hope that our leaders in Springfield will address some of my concerns and enact reforms that makes this process more fair and balanced for complainants because as of now we are completely excluded from the Operational Rules as having any standing or being a named party and we are not given any rights whatsoever. This will have to change.

All my best, Denise Rotheimer

- Posted by Rich Miller        

24 Comments
  1. - Thomas Paine - Tuesday, Nov 28, 17 @ 8:03 am:

    it seems like Ms. Rotheimer ought to atleast wait for the outcome of the investigation before complaining the system doesn’t work.


  2. - Thomas Paine - Tuesday, Nov 28, 17 @ 8:17 am:

    “why I am the only one who named a name.”

    Also, it is unfair to judge other complainants and alleged victims. Not everyone wants to be in the media spotlight.


  3. - Too Much to Handle - Tuesday, Nov 28, 17 @ 8:26 am:

    Ms. Rotheimer needs to understand that this is generally how IG investigations and other govt. investigations work. If she wants to file a private lawsuit, she can. But the purpose of this investigation is not to provide her with damages or other remedies - it is to determine whether the Senator is guilty of any wrongdoing. This is a common misunderstanding of those going through this type of process.


  4. - JB13 - Tuesday, Nov 28, 17 @ 8:32 am:

    A process that favors powerful men in Springfield? Perish the thought. Clearly, the lack of any other victims willing to come forward demonstrates Sen. Silverstein is the only one to have allegedly engaged in any misbehavior, and sexual harassment just isn’t a problem to be taken seriously in Springfield. Or it’s all fixed now. Either way, back to winning elections and consolidating power. We wouldn’t want to sully the careers and reputations of any of our “icons.”


  5. - Anon - Tuesday, Nov 28, 17 @ 8:54 am:

    My experience with the OEIG is this:

    1.) Make complaint
    2.) Get contacted, told it needs to be referred to agency, and agree that it doesn’t have to my anonymous.
    3.) Agency receives complaint, interviews and investigation into whether or not I broke rules by contacting OEIG about proprietary information.
    4.) No change to practice causing violation.

    1.) Make complaint — anonymously.
    2.) No idea what happens.
    3.) In appropriate agency practice continues.

    1.) Make complaint non-anonymously to cover other employees to ethics officer outside of my agency.
    2.) After explaining issue, ethics officer asks me to submit it to the OEIG because they can’t act on it.
    3.) Resubmit complaint, receive letter, nothing happens, falsifying state records remain employed.

    1.) Contact agency ethics officer.
    2.) Agency ethics officer claims he’s going to look into it.
    3.) Retaliated against by entire chain of supervisors for “going above them.”

    I guess we’re just supposed to keep reporting this stuff?


  6. - Lobo - Tuesday, Nov 28, 17 @ 8:56 am:

    Article 1 section 8.1 of the Illinois Constitution covers her beefs. Including “standing.” All the new harassment statute has to do is reference this part of the constitution. As it stands it only applies to “crime victims.” I’m not sure this fact pattern of SH applies. I’m eager to hear other, better thoughts on this.


  7. - Lobo - Tuesday, Nov 28, 17 @ 9:00 am:

    The definition of “crime victim” “as defined by law” according to the document. Add a complaint to the IG to the definition of “crime victim” and Voila.


  8. - Tinker - Tuesday, Nov 28, 17 @ 9:08 am:

    Before we start stringing people up by their heels and complaining about the process, can we all take a moment to review what a person can currently do. The system in place for ethics complaints was not structured to deal with issues such as sexual harassment. The system was set up to handle complaints about misuse of state property, conducting political work on state time, etc. Basically, issues where the “victim” is the State or the taxpayers, not necessarily an identifiable person. Those types of allegations have always been handled in one of three ways: (1) as a human resources issue, (2) an issue before the Department of Human Rights, or (3) civil court.

    Personally, I don’t want inspectors general appointed by public officials to be handling these items, and I dont want ethics commissions passing judgment. This is the kind of thing that belongs in a court of law, not an administrative process.


  9. - Matt Vernau - Tuesday, Nov 28, 17 @ 9:52 am:

    Thank You Tinker. Internal Processes are just internal processes. Unless she has something spectacular in her hold cards Rotheimer is walking her own rope. Inside the internal process even if she is vindicated she has no right to know about the outcome of that process. The only reason to go through that process is to create a record that the legislature or agency in question knew that some kind of harassment problem existed. This is exactly why the victim of harassment needs to say “no” early on and energetically enough to have created witnesses and other factual evidence.


  10. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Nov 28, 17 @ 9:59 am:

    Is anyone else uncomfortable with the fact that Rotheimer is an aspiring political candidate? Sometimes, it feels like she is issuing statements to raise her profile rather than for addressing the issues that she claims are so important to her as an advocate.


  11. - Protections - Tuesday, Nov 28, 17 @ 10:23 am:

    Legislators give themselves a lot of foia exemptions and privacy. Wish other public employees were afforded same privacy for such investigations.


  12. - Springfieldish - Tuesday, Nov 28, 17 @ 10:31 am:

    Anon 9:59 hit it on the head.

    And if ethical conduct is so important to Ms. Rotheimer, where is her committee? She fought a petition challenge in 2014. She ran for Lake County Board in 2016 and now she’s running for State Rep and yet the only committee to be found on the Board of Elections website is the one for her 2008 run for Lake County Board as a Democrat. With all the hearings regarding getting knocked off the ballot in 2014 for submitting color copies instead of originals for some of her petitions, an active campaign for County Board and her current campaign, she’s got to have spent at least the threshold amounts for reporting. Transparency is important; even for Denise.


  13. - Michelle Flaherty - Tuesday, Nov 28, 17 @ 10:35 am:

    – Wish other public employees were afforded same privacy for such investigations. –

    They are. All inspector general, ethics commission complaints across all branches are confidential unless deemed “founded.” They become public only after someone has basically been found guilty of a violation.


  14. - A State Employee Guy - Tuesday, Nov 28, 17 @ 10:37 am:

    Man, this is just not the case that’s gonna bring about change. Of all the actual sexual harassment/misconduct that (very much likely) goes on in Springfield, THIS is the flag bearer??


  15. - Expletivedeleted - Tuesday, Nov 28, 17 @ 10:49 am:

    I have always felt, in every case I have seen, that each and every IG, ethics office, etc. exists primarily to keep reprehensible, often criminal conduct out of the public eye and out of the courts. LIG is likely more of the same. This is why “mandated reporting” exists with respect to health/child care. When people are being abused by those with power over them the only real remedy is the criminal justice system. Anything less is a compromise with those in power. I see no reason why a senator who molests someone, for example, should be “investigated” by some political appointee. My personal opinion is that these issues should be initially handled as a potential criminal issue with the IG/ethics types doing cleanup after a proper criminal investigation. Others may disagree.


  16. - Tinker - Tuesday, Nov 28, 17 @ 11:24 am:

    ==- Expletivedeleted - Tuesday, Nov 28, 17 @ 10:49 am:

    I have always felt, in every case I have seen, that each and every IG, ethics office, etc. exists primarily to keep reprehensible, often criminal conduct out of the public eye and out of the courts. LIG is likely more of the same. This is why “mandated reporting” exists with respect to health/child care. When people are being abused by those with power over them the only real remedy is the criminal justice system. Anything less is a compromise with those in power. I see no reason why a senator who molests someone, for example, should be “investigated” by some political appointee. My personal opinion is that these issues should be initially handled as a potential criminal issue with the IG/ethics types doing cleanup after a proper criminal investigation. Others may disagree.==

    You’re presuming that sexual harassment is criminal. That’s not the case. What is criminal is sexual assault, battery, assault. But creating a hostile working environment is not criminal. It is a civil violation. If the victim of sexual harassment was touched, or as you say “molested”, they have the right to go to a State’s Attorney and seek criminal charges for battery, assault, sexual assault, or whatever crime is applicable.

    Also, I have no idea how you could have personally reviewed cases and made such a broad generalization about every IG and ethics officer, particularly since all of the information in confidential. Most ethics officers in State government are lawyers, which means they have a DUTY to report criminal conduct. They don’t have the authority to sweep it under the rug.


  17. - Anon - Tuesday, Nov 28, 17 @ 11:29 am:

    ===Is anyone else uncomfortable with the fact that Rotheimer is an aspiring political candidate?===

    Sure, but there are lots of folks that have signed on to that letter that haven’t come forward because they’re aspiring to have a career too and are super confident that the immediate response will be some variant of retaliation or damage to their reputation that will require them to move.

    No one is evening bringing up that John Anthony used to be a state rep before going to DOC and eventually getting fired.


  18. - Anon2017 - Tuesday, Nov 28, 17 @ 12:14 pm:

    Expletivedeleted - you are condemning the members of the commission. I know some of them and they are good conscientious people, not corrupt minions of a banana republic. Probably they will be tarred as such no matter what.

    Anon wrote “but there are lots of folks that have signed on to that letter that haven’t come forward because they’re aspiring to have a career too”

    This misses the point the OP was getting too. There is obvious benefit in the form of publicity to a political candidate. We really cannot know exactly what people think. It does however seem to me the OP did bring a valid consideration.


  19. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Nov 28, 17 @ 1:16 pm:

    Anon at 8:54

    I had a similar experience. My complaints even involved my agency ethics officer and OEIG still referred them back to the agency. I was fired a few months later but got some severance pay and already had a new job lined up luckily.


  20. - Sigh - Tuesday, Nov 28, 17 @ 1:52 pm:

    - I see no reason why a senator who molests someone, for example, should be “investigated” by some political appointee. My personal opinion is that these issues should be initially handled as a potential criminal issue with the IG/ethics types doing cleanup after a proper criminal investigation.-

    Let’s stop right here. That statement is reckless! I don’t know who you are, or if you are even a regular on this blog, but there is a difference between sexual harassment, Ethics Act violations and a “senator molesting” someone. Just so you know molesting someone would not be an issue that the LIG or the Legislative Ethics Commission would have jurisdiction over. A senator molesting someone would be a criminal act and law enforcement would be notified.

    If you are trying to make the connection of a senator molesting someone to Ms. Rotheimer’s allegation, then I suggest you listen to her interview with Dan Proft. Dan asked her if the senator ever touched her.

    Now is the perfect time to point out to those reading this blog that the Ethics Act also has a provision relating to penalties for false reports. For those not familiar with the Ethics Act, legislators are not the only individuals that are subject to the Ethics Act and a knee jerk reaction to amend the Act bc one person (not under the jurisdiction of the Act) feels the deck is stacked against them is dangerous. I’m sure legislative staffers and state agency employees that have been subjects of investigations would agree that this process does not protect them. Therefore, if changes to the Act are going to be made, then a union representing a majority of the state employees should be at the table during these discussions.


  21. - Sigh - Tuesday, Nov 28, 17 @ 3:11 pm:

    I read her email again {sigh}…

    -Why else would the accuser or complainant be completely excluded from having any entitlements (rights, due process, remedies or relief) throughout this entire process.-

    Due process, really? Did you not accuse the Senator of sexual harassment in a public forum and then call on him to resign? What about the due process of the individual being accused of a violation or crime…. now I’m starting to see why the victims rights bill had problems and co-sponsored removed themselves.


  22. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Nov 28, 17 @ 3:46 pm:

    Denise, you are a poor messenger for a truly important issue. You hurt the cause for which you advocate - the minefield of reporting SA. Too much seems to be about you versus the issue at hand.


  23. - Anon - Tuesday, Nov 28, 17 @ 4:58 pm:

    ===I had a similar experience. My complaints even involved my agency ethics officer and OEIG still referred them back to the agency.===

    Sorry to hear about your experience. I submitted an ethics complaint about an agency’s ethics officer also being the agency’s counsel which is a pretty transparent conflict of interest.

    No changes made. I’ve also seen situations where the labor relations liaison was the ethics officer, which again is a pretty straight forward conflict of interest.

    The Ethics Act was a great law, but it’s being implemented by a generation of bureaucrats that got their jobs by buying tickets to fund raisers.


  24. - Sigh - Tuesday, Nov 28, 17 @ 5:40 pm:

    -The Ethics Act was a great law, but it’s being implemented by a generation of bureaucrats that got their jobs by buying tickets to fund raisers.-

    Do you have proof that they bought tickets to fund raisers? Another example of another reckless statement being made. I’ve worked ethics issues and have never bought one ticket.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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