* From Steve Brown at 1:15 this afternoon…
There will be a media availability with Heather Wier-Vaught and Speaker Madigan in Room 114 of the State House at the conclusion of the caucus that is just beginning. There is no way to estimate the exact time, but I am guessing at least one hour from now. I will try to offer a more precise timetable when information becomes available.
*** UPDATE *** Live video is here.
[ *** End Of Update *** ]
Make sure to check our live coverage post for updates.
* On to some coverage highlights. Sun-Times…
A political consultant on Tuesday said House Speaker Mike Madigan would have never fired his top aide, Kevin Quinn, the brother of Ald. Marty Quinn, if she hadn’t gone public with accusations that Kevin Quinn had sent her a series of harassing text messages.
The consultant, Alaina Hampton, held a news conference Tuesday that outlined her complaints against Kevin Quinn and Madigan. Hampton said she had never wanted to go public.
“I asked him to stop seven times. It never stopped,” Hampton told reporters at a Chicago press conference of Kevin Quinn’s repeated text messages. “I feared not responding to my supervisor because I didn’t didn’t want him to tell the speaker or Ald. Quinn that I was not cooperating with my work,” Hampton said. “My first instinct was not to complain about him. It was my last option.”
Hampton read a letter directed at Ald. Quinn (13th), whom she called a mentor. She said telling him about his brother “was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life.”
Lorna Brett, a former president of the Chicago chapter of the National Organization for Women who is serving as a pro bono advocate for Hampton, questioned the timing of Madigan’s announcement. Brett, a media strategist working with attorneys on legal matters brought against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, said the speaker’s spin “doesn’t pass the smell test.”
[Madigan attorney Heather Wier Vaught] said Kevin Quinn did not contact Hampton again after she told Ald. Quinn about the harassment and noted that Ald. Quinn had requested that she keep working with the organization. Wier Vaught said the alderman told Hampton she could report to him rather than to his brother. She also said Hampton previously had made it clear she didn’t want Kevin Quinn fired.
Hampton said “things really took a bad turn” when Wier Vaught contacted her, saying in the EEOC filing that the attorney had “minimized the sexual harassment.”
Wier Vaught, who works part time as a special counsel to Madigan, said in response that she was “surprised” by the characterization and that it was “never my intention” to do so.
* The last paragraph is key here…
Hampton said she felt Madigan and others covered up her complaint and Kevin Quinn would still be in his job if she hadn’t gone to the media. Madigan’s Monday news release announcing his termination was “pre-emeptive,” she said, because the longtime House speaker knew the Tribune story was about to be published.
“They thought that I was too loyal to ever come forward,” she said.
Hampton’s attorney, Shelly Kulwin, said Tuesday that action should have been taken the second Hampton’s allegations became clear.
“At a minimum there should be an investigation by an independent party, usually an outside law firm, to investigate whether there’s any truth,” Kulwin said. “That’s what every credible organization does.”
I agree with Kulwin. State harassment and discrimination laws don’t cover campaign committees (and it’s doubtful that they could because of 1st Amendment issues), so the best way to handle something like this is to retain outside counsel rather than just dealing with it internally, no matter how respected the internal attorney is (and she is).
Wier-Vaught’s investigation lasted about the same time as the LIG probe of Sen. Ira Silverstein. And the resulting banishment of the alleged perp made sense. But sending out a press release about the actions just 12 hours before the Tribune story went live undermined the investigation’s credibility.