*** UPDATE 3 *** Speaker Madigan’s statement…
“I spoke with Kelly Cassidy today. I told her I will cooperate fully and I will ask independent counsel Kelly Smith-Haley to assist.”
*** UPDATE 4 *** I checked in with Rep. Cassidy via text about her chat with Speaker Madigan today. “I spoke briefly to him as a professional courtesy that I was releasing the statement,” she wrote.
What did Madigan say? “He asked me how to accomplish the independence, and indicated he would be willing to cooperate.”
Also: “He never mentioned the firm or the attorney.”
[ *** End Of Updates *** ]
* Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago)…
“The slow and steady drip of accusations and dismissals has turned into an endless cycle of lather, rinse, repeat, highlighting the culture of harassment in the legislature and political campaigns.
I am calling for an independent investigation into this culture that appears to pervade the organizations led by Speaker Madigan. Because of the unique interconnectedness of his Capitol and political operations, the investigation must not be hampered by organizational boundaries. The investigator(s) should not be Democratic elected officials, individuals or firms with pre-existing ties to the Speaker and should have demonstrated experience with investigations of this nature.
We must get to the bottom of this with confidence in the independence of the investigator. We need to force the very real culture change required to truly show that #timesup.”
*** UPDATE 1 *** Tribune…
“We need a real, independent law firm, not someone that is hired by the chair of the party, and that’s what’s happened,” said Sen. Melinda Bush, D-Grayslake. “Whether or not they are wonderful people, it doesn’t matter. They’ve been hired by him. If you are going to do a true independent council, a true independent group, they have to be people that are clearly independent from the head of the (Democratic Party of Illinois).”
Bush said she did not believe the chair of the Democratic Party should serve as speaker of the House or president of the Senate. Bush stopped short of calling for Madigan to step down from his chairmanship of the party, but said “I think it’s something he should seriously consider, however, for the good of the party going forward.”
“I think there is an incestuous relationship that occurs there that is not healthy,” Bush said.
Asked about the calls for Madigan to step down as head of the party, Madigan spokesman Steve Brown said “that’s not going to happen.” He pointed to comments Madigan made last week following calls to resign by Democratic Rep. Scott Drury, a frequent critic of Madigan who is running for attorney general.
*** UPDATE 2 *** Press release…
Today, Comptroller Susana A. Mendoza, Congresswoman Cheri Bustos and State Representative Carol Ammons issued the following joint statement regarding the sexual harassment panel they are in the process of developing:
“We agreed to serve on this panel because it is clear that institutionalized systems have perpetuated sexism, sexual harassment, and inequality in our state’s political system. We thank the women who have come forward with their experiences for their bravery and courage.
“We recognize the importance and benefit to everyone when women are in positions of influential leadership and are active in all levels of our political system, from campaign staff to candidate. All women should be able to engage, achieve and excel in the workplace without fear of being excluded, harassed, discriminated, or retaliated against. It shouldn’t matter whether you work in a restaurant, a factory, a board room, a state capitol or a political campaign.
“When any woman finds herself being sexually harassed, resources should be readily available for her to seek justice and hold the perpetrators accountable. Survivors of sexual harassment must feel that their claims will be taken seriously, addressed promptly and that they can report incidents without fear of retribution. The culture of the ‘good old boy’ network is not changing fast enough and our panel will seek to accelerate the change of that culture.
“Since the hashtag MeToo caught fire in 2017, we have seen a flood of sexual harassment victims come forward. This is a problem on all levels of government and in all parties. The only significant and sustaining solution will be to change the dynamics and composition of leadership in politics.
“We have begun discussions about how to structure this panel and define its mission to include the voices of women around Illinois and make recommendations. At its core, in order for this panel to be effective in presenting legitimate findings and effective solutions, it must be completely independent. We take this responsibility seriously and, in the coming days, we will be publicly outlining the scope of the panel’s goals and our timeline after we have the opportunity to discuss the most effective path forward as a team.”