* Press release…
A week after releasing it, Democratic candidates throughout Illinois are signing on to the zero-tolerance sexual harassment pledge developed by the Illinois Democratic County Chairs’ Association. Today, IDCCA President Doug House offered the framework to Illinois Republicans, saying no one in Illinois politics should remain inactive or silent in working to protect campaign workers, interns, volunteers and activists.
“No wall has been built to keep sexual harassment and intimidation out of any political party,” House said. “We’re asking the Illinois Republican Party to acknowledge and embrace the policy framework and pledge we’ve developed for Democrats. It’s a unifying step to show a bipartisan commitment to reveal how serious we all are in addressing a widespread problem.”
The IDCCA’s internal Sexual Harassment Task Force began developing the policy and pledge in 2017 when the committee was formed. Last week, the association approved and distributed the policy and pledge to all Democratic candidates. Beyond electronic distribution, social media promotion and media outreach, a mailing was issued to Democratic candidates and is expected to be received early this week.
House says that Republican leaders shouldn’t be shy in adopting the policy or the pledge that the Democratic Chairs’ Association worked so diligently on.
“We’ve done the hard work of creating a solid policy framework and we’re sharing it with our colleagues in the Republican Party with the hope that they will adopt or improve upon it,” House said. “As the leader of his Party, we hope Governor Rauner recognizes that sexual harassment is an issue that impacts everyone and that a bipartisan effort to address it sorely needed. We stand ready to work with anyone so that women can feel welcomed and valued in all campaign organizations.”
The IDCCA today emailed the attached letter, policy and pledge to Tim Schneider, Chairman of the Illinois Republican Party. A hard copy was also mailed today.
The group’s policy is here. The letter to the ILGOP is here.
The letter is very polite, but there’s undoubtedly some political opportunism here. Even so, it is worth pointing out that the Rauner campaign, the state GOP and the two Republican caucuses have not yet announced any proactive policies on this topic.
Kennedy told the Sun-Times a pledge released by the Illinois Democratic County Chairman’s Association last week doesn’t go far enough. The pledge urged campaign staffers to understand what sexual harassment is and to report it to the state’s Department of Human Rights or the Illinois Attorney General’s office.
“I think it focuses on campaign and not on the party or the party infrastructure, where all of the abuses are emanating from,” Kennedy said
And the Chicago businessman also criticized the lack of a plan by Republicans: “It doesn’t exist.”
Kennedy said the issue is more complicated than it may seem.
“We need to get to the culture of fear in Illinois.”
* However, a pal of mine isn’t enamored with Kennedy’s plan. From an e-mail…
(H)e opens by saying that we can’t allow politicians to investigate themselves.
He goes on to create a committee made up specifically of 2 Democrats and 2 Republicans. Those people are appointed by the Commissioners of the state board of election, who come to have their positions as described here: https://www2.illinois.gov/sites/bac/SitePages/AppointmentsDetail.aspx?BCID=1080
Here’s a picture of those people: https://www.elections.il.gov/AboutTheBoard/BoardMembers.aspx
There is no reason to think they have any idea who the [heck] should sit on a panel that is part of their own, and who do people with political connections know? People they have political connections to. There’s nothing apolitical about bi-partisan panels.
The notion that a committee of 4 people with legal counsel would have the capacity to investigate, with discovery power, every complaint within 30 days of filing during active campaign cycles is absurd. And do people HAVE to go through this first before going to the department of human rights? Are they even aware that the department of human rights complaint is actually the thing you have to do before you’re even allowed to file a law-suit? So are we adding another layer? And if this extra layer (staffed, by design, by partisans) fails to find harassment, does that information get reported up to the next level at the department of human rights? Is the “discovery” shared with the person harassed so they can use it in their case? Does it go away? […]
I also see all sorts of due process issues with this. Keeping a database of people that this rink-a-dink committee deems guilty of sexual harassment? Come on.
*** UPDATE *** From the ILGOP’s Aaron Degroot…
It’s unfortunate that the IDCCA chose to engage us via press release as opposed to serious person-to-person conversation on such an important topic like combating sexual harassment in the workplace. Their behavior is unsurprising, though, as they seem more concerned with providing cover for their own party chairman, Mike Madigan, than creating a political environment of leadership and accountability as it pertains to this topic.
At the Illinois Republican Party’s State Central Committee quarterly meeting held this past weekend in the Quad Cities, Chairman Tim Schneider announced the creation of the Task Force On Sexual Harassment Policies and Prevention to enact guidelines for:
* reporting cases of sexual harassment
* increasing awareness among Republican candidates, campaign staff and volunteers of sexual harassment in the workplace and on the campaign trail, and
* offering counsel on sexual harassment guidelines and prevention for Republican organizations and campaigns across Illinois.
The task force will make recommendations to the State Central Committee for approval in the coming weeks. We look forward to working thoughtfully and collaboratively with Citizens for Rauner, the House Republican Organization, the Republican State Senate Campaign Committee, and other Republican committees to ensure all Republican campaigns in Illinois have strong protections against sexual harassment and discrimination.