Today, in an interview with WBEZ reporter Dave McKinney, State Representative Jeanne Ives, the conservative reform Republican candidate for Governor, called for Speaker Madigan to step down. Her call comes in response to a sexual harassment scandal in the Speaker’s office, centered on Kevin Quinn, a top political operative of Madigan’s.
In January, Ives stood with Springfield whistleblower, Denise Rotheimer, to call on leaders in both parties to end their bipartisan protection racket and take complaints of sexual harassment seriously.
At that time, Ives called for the release (with accuser’s names redacted) of the complaints against legislators that went uninvestigated because of the three-year absence of a Legislative Inspector General.
Rotheimer’s testimony illustrated the bipartisan perpetuation of the culture of sexual harassment in Springfield noting that she had implored both Senate President John Cullerton and House Minority Leader Jim Durkin to take up her cause but neither did. Both brushed off her complaints, according to Rotheimer.
Then 300 women signed an open #MeToo letter about the culture of sexual harassment in Springfield.
Names were not named but specific examples of unethical behavior and, in some cases, illegal conduct were provided.
“Misogyny is alive and well in this industry,” read the letter in reference to Illinois politics.
“And it’s alive and well because of what clearly has been the neglect by leadership of both political parties in Springfield and aided by the obliviousness of Governor Rauner,” said Ives.
“Now another young woman – one who has been working in the Speaker’s office – comes forward to tell her story with evidence.
“The office of House Speaker is a powerful position that carries with it a great deal of responsibility. It is because of Speaker Madigan’s failure to carry out the responsibility of his leadership position that we’re at this point. He failed to do his job and ensure that a Legislative Inspector General was in place and that complaints were handled in a timely manner.
“Because of his failure, numerous women have been hurt – professionally and otherwise. He should step down from his position as House Speaker just as Senator Ira Silverstein was removed from his leadership position in the Senate and ultimately found to have violated state ethics laws.
“The lack of accountability in state government is stunning and unacceptable.
“We should have a system that checks the abuses of those in power. Under Speaker Madigan, however, we have a system where those in power abuse and protect each other from accountability. Enough.
“This is part of the culture of corruption in Illinois. Governor Rauner, who promised that he would clean up that culture by standing up to Speaker Madigan, now tells us he’s not in charge. Fine, Governor, then step aside and I’ll lead that charge.”
You probably won’t be surprised to learn that Madigan told reporters today he has no intention of stepping down.