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*** UPDATED x1 - ILGOP responds *** IDCCA “shares” sexual harassment pledge, policy with ILGOP

Monday, Feb 26, 2018

* 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.

…Adding… Sun-Times

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:

Here’s a picture of those people:

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…

Hi Rich,

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.



- Posted by Rich Miller   7 Comments      

Breen reports death threat as Minor claims he was set up

Monday, Feb 26, 2018

* Ugh

State Rep. Peter Breen, R-Lombard, reportedly received a death threat in the wake of an email he sent to fellow Republicans about Winfield Township Republican Party Chairman Burt Minor and the comments he allegedly directed toward Republican attorney general candidate Erika Harold. […]

“This caller was responding to my actions last week, blowing the whistle on a Republican candidate… Our family has dealt with plenty of harassing phone calls over the years, and the First Amendment protects a wide range of speech. But there’s a line you don’t cross – you don’t threaten physical violence. That’s a crime,” Breen said in the [Facebook] post. “There’s just nothing like having your wife listen to a voicemail recording of a lunatic saying that her husband should be ’shot in the f****** head.’ ”

Breen has reported the threat to the Lombard Police Department, according to the post.

Minor is running for the seat currently held by state Rep. Jeanne Ives, R-Wheaton, who is running for governor. In his email, Breen said Minor allegedly asked Harold personal questions about her marital status and sexual orientation, “going so far as to inquire whether she was a ‘lesbo.’ The chairman also used the full n-word repeatedly in front of Ms. Harold and her assistant, asking whether she found its usage offensive.”

* Here’s the voicemail, which is from an unknown caller. But, be warned, there’s lots of profanity. It’s really ugly

* Meanwhile

Legislative candidate Burt Minor strongly denies uttering a homosexual slur in front of Republican attorney general candidate Erika Harold and says he only used a racial epithet during that October conversation after she asked him to explain the meaning of the “N-word.” […]

“I’m probably destroyed on this campaign by this slanderous hitting,” Minor told the Daily Herald’s Editorial Board on Monday. “But I have integrity. And I’ve got to defend at least my integrity and tell folks this isn’t the way it happened. It isn’t the way it happened.” […]

Minor says he was encouraged by Harold to ask her about her sexual orientation, with her saying “ask the next question” after he inquired about her marital status. He insists he never used a homosexual slur during the conversation. […]

“She asked me, “What did the N-word mean?,’” Minor said. “She asked me what the N-word was, which I think was a setup question. How would anyone not know what the N-word was?”

While he used the word, Minor says he did it “in a polite way.”

OK, well, just one thing here: There is no “polite way” to say that word in front of an African-American person. Ever.

…Adding… Back in October, Minor wasn’t even a candidate for the Illinois House because Jeanne Ives hadn’t made the move to the governor’s race, so I’m not sure why Harold would even be trying to set him up.

- Posted by Rich Miller   32 Comments      

Question of the day

Monday, Feb 26, 2018

* The Sharon Fairley campaign says this TV ad will start running on cable TV this week

* Script…

Narrator: In these dark times, the Chicago Tribune endorses Sharon Fairley for attorney general, calling her “a fearless and tested change agent.” The Tribune says “she fought public corruption” and “no politician owns her.” As attorney general, Sharon will reform our criminal justice system and crack down on sexual misconduct in the workplace. Sharon’s been taking on bullies and bigots her whole life, so she will stand up to Trump’s attacks on women, immigrants, and people of color. The Tribune endorses Sharon Fairley.

* The Question: Your rating? Don’t forget to explain.

- Posted by Rich Miller   20 Comments      

Max Kennedy goes on somewhat bizarre rant against JB Pritzker during “unity” event

Monday, Feb 26, 2018

* From last September

The son of Robert F. Kennedy has had a criminal charge dismissed after agreeing to pay a small $150 fine.

Max Kennedy, 52, was arrested for disorderly conduct last month when police were called to an early morning party near the political family’s Cape Cod compound in Hyannis Port, Mass.

When confronted about the noise, the lawyer began “screaming incoherently and throwing himself at the wall” before he smashed a cabinet of glass, according to a report from the Barnstable Police.

* Chris Kennedy’s brother Max disputed that police report, but he had a bit of an issue at yesterday’s Kane County Democrats Harry S. Truman Dinner. If you go to about the 1:22-minute mark of this tracker video, you’ll see Kennedy’s relevant remarks partially aimed at fellow attendee JB Pritzker accompanied by some loud booing

* Transcript

My father said, ‘The easiest thing to do would be to get elected President of the United States, you know how you do it? You just, uh, apply directly to peoples’ fears about people who are different. And if you look at the people who voted for George Wallace in 1972, they’re the exact same people in the state of Illinois who were RFK supporters four years earlier. So, that darkness is inside all of us and we’re capable of bringing it out.

When, when JB, when he was running for Congress and he started losing that race, he started losing the race, and he started talking about the Muslims*. That’s the kind of thing I’m talking about. I don’t want to have a negative campaign. But I’ll tell you, absolutely, JB, you’re shaking your hands like it didn’t happen, so that’s a direct answer, yes or no?

So, when you come up here, I want you to say whether or not you’ll support Joe Berrios after he has been convicted, he has been found to have been in violation of the 1964 Civil Rights Act**. Will you just answer without doing the Irish jig? [Dances on stage.] Tell us the direct answer to the question. [Booing begins.] Will you support Joe Berrios? [More booing.] It’s an important question to ask. [Someone shouts “Not here!”] Alright, we’ll answer it, we’ll ask it another time.

[Long pause.] So, I’ll tell you what, I’ll tell you just one quick story about my dad. [Another long pause.] You know, I know you guys don’t really want to talk about the difficult things in the Democratic Party. And I know this is a dinner for unity. And I guarantee you, all of us will be back together, all of us will be back together on the 21st no matter who wins this primary. And I’ll be happy to work for the Democrat who wins.

I hope that you will not vote for someone who uses coded language to talk about minorities and that you will not, and you will vote for someone who will stand for what the Democrats believe in. For giving the child a coat***, not for the kinds of corruption and, you know, all the money, all of the money that Joe Berrios is taking, that’s coming out of his, they’re taking almost a million dollars per ward****. That’s a playground for every ward. [One person heard clapping.]

You may not like it, but try to answer the question without dancing, JB. [Some clapping and some booing can be heard as Kennedy leaves the stage.]

After the speech, you can hear Kane County Democratic Party Chairman Mark Guethle start to say: “Alright, first of all, I just want to say this isn’t Chicago, Illinois. This is Kane County, we’re in Aurora, Illinois,” followed by cheering. Guethle, keep in mind, has endorsed Pritzker.

* From the Beacon-News

When he stepped to the stage, Pritzker had something to say to Kennedy.

“Max you may have forgotten your glasses. Are these yours? I am running a positive campaign*****,” Pritzker said to applause. […]

As he was leaving the facility after the event, Pritzker called the incident “unfortunate.”

“I think they are seeing that their campaign isn’t running well so they are attacking,” he said. “That’s what that is about. I am sorry to see that. It’s politics. Hopefully they will come together. We all need to come together to beat Bruce Rauner after March 20th.”

* Footnotes…

*Background is here.

**Chris Kennedy has claimed that the Cook County property tax assessment system violates the Civil Rights Act, but that hasn’t yet been adjudicated.

***A quote from Max Kennedy’s grandmother earlier in the speech: “The essence of the Democratic Party is when we see a child without a coat, we give him a coat.”

****I have no idea what that means. ADDING: With thanks to a couple of commenters, click here for background.

*****Pritzker is not running a positive campaign when it comes to Sen. Daniel Biss.

- Posted by Rich Miller   29 Comments      

Catching up with the Lipinski-Newman primary

Monday, Feb 26, 2018

* This lede makes little sense when put into a strictly local context

Dan Lipinski is the kind of candidate Democrats need more of for the party to win the House in November. But the national Democratic Party is refusing to endorse him.

The seven-term congressman from Chicago, who opposes abortion and voted against Obamacare, marriage equality and immigration reform, is one of the most conservative members of the House Democratic Caucus.

Do the national Democrats need a conservative like Lipinski in order to hold that particular seat in November? No. The district is solidly Democratic and the Republican nominee this year will be a Holocaust denier. The only reason the DCCC or the DNC should step in here is if they know something about Marie Newman that we don’t. I mean, it’s not like Lipinski has been overly generous with his time and money to the DCCC over the years.

* More

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez was pressed by MSNBC’s Kasie Hunt earlier this month whether there’s room in the party for Democrats who oppose abortion rights, and why he wasn’t supporting Lipinski even though he’s an incumbent. “One thing I’ve learned from primaries in the past is that when the DNC gets involved in those races, then we sometimes get accused of trying to put the thumb on the scale,” Perez responded.

Ain’t that the truth.

* Meanwhile

A just-spawned super PAC, “Citizens for a Better Illinois,” last week spent $412,556 to produce ads opposing Lipinski, according to Federal Election Commission records. […]

And “United for Progress, Inc., created in 2017 — with mega donations from three Chicago area contributors — reported last week spending $37,767 on direct mail designed to re-elect Lipinski. […]

FEC records show the 2017 mega donors to “United for Progress” include $200,000 from White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf; $100,000 from Craig Duchossois, the chairman and chief executive officer of The Duchossois Group, and $100,000 from Jim Frank, the CEO and president of Wheels.

Neither group has reported any spending that I can find since that report was published last week, but I’m not yet adept at dealing with the new FEC website.

* Also from last week

U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski was put on the defensive again by Democratic primary challenger Marie Newman at a Wednesday night forum, with Newman throwing barbs at Lipinski over campaign financing and his ties to Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan.

It was the first time the incumbent and challenger met on a public stage, and Newman packed the crowd of more than 400 with boisterous supporters at a League of Women Voters event hosted at Moraine Valley Community College, the heart of the hotly contested 3rd Congressional District that covers most of Chicago’s Southwest Side and the southwest suburbs. […]

The congressman touted his efforts of bringing $375 million to the district for infrastructure projects, as well as his efforts to work on bipartisan immigration legislation. He cautioned against a move to the left, saying it would only add to “bickering and gridlock” in Washington.

“Having a Tea Party of the Left, that makes promises about all these things that can happen magically — it’s not going to work,” he said. “They’re fantasies. We need to be willing to sit down and work together.”

He makes a valid point.

* Ted Slowik was at the debate

In all my years covering elections, I’ve never seen so many people at an event fired up about a race. A league spokeswoman told me 538 people attended. TV crews recorded the action, journalists occupied all the seats at a press table and several photographers documented the event.

The contest is getting a lot of national attention. Many consider the race a bellwether of a potentially significant power struggle between the establishment and progressive wings of the Democratic Party .

There were protests and disruptions. As Lipinski answered a question about campaign finance reform, a man in the audience stood and shouted in protest before walking out. At other times, people interrupted responses with shouts from the audience and the moderator appealed for order.


Lipinski acknowledged that the progressive base is spoiling for a fight with the president, and was quick to tout votes against Obamacare repeal and the GOP tax plan, his longtime support for gun control, environmental protections and his endorsement from the AFL-CIO. But he argued that Democrats shouldn’t cast out moderates like himself.

“It’s understandable that people are as incensed by Trump as I am, the things he has done and said. It’s important, though, that we do not form a Tea Party of the left, I think that’s detrimental to the party,” he said. “We’re in a position where we’re down 24 seats in the House, we’ve lost 1000 seats across the country since 2010, and we need to make sure we’re a big tent party, not closing down. That’s not good.”

Again, while he makes a valid point, it’s not necessary to have a conservative Dem to win that particular district.

* WaPo

For months, Democrats looked at Newman and saw yet another candidate who would probably come up short. Lipinski ended 2017 with $1.7 million to spend; Newman ended it with $237,000. The Democrats who run nearly every office in the district endorsed Lipinski, as did the AFL-CIO. The bitterly contested primary for governor promised that rank-and-file Democrats, familiar with the Lipinski brand, would be turning out on March 20.

That changed last month, after local Democrats saw polling that found Newman gaining on the incumbent. On Jan. 17, two of Lipinski’s liberal colleagues, Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) and Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), endorsed Newman at a news conference in Washington. Gutierrez ripped into Lipinski for opposing the Dream Act, which would provide protections for many young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children; Schakowsky asked why Chicago’s blue suburbs still had an antiabortion congressman. […]

In the following weeks, Newman became a bona fide liberal cause. The state branch of the Service Employees International Union backed her, as did Emily’s List, which liberals had criticized for not endorsing Newman sooner. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) scheduled a fundraiser for Newman; Planned Parenthood jumped in against a congressman who “time and time again tried to take away women’s access to health care.” […]

Some Lipinski supporters are trying to raise the specter of disaster for another reason. Catholic Vote, a decade-old conservative nonprofit group, sent representatives to the forum this month to talk about its church-driven voter push and the risk of ousting a pro-life Democrat. The antiabortion Susan B. Anthony List, which largely supports Republicans, has bundled more than $40,000 for Lipinski and readied a voter persuasion campaign to brand Newman as a pro-abortion extremist.

* Related…

* Lipinski: ‘I’m not that vulnerable’: Lipinski argues they’ve got that wrong, saying “Bernie won the district because he stood for middle class Americans, working men and women against these bad trade deals and I think that’s exactly why I have been successful because I have never lost that focus.” While taping Connected to Chicago for Sunday night at 7, Lipinski had a new idea to protect people from the mentally ill who shouldn’t have guns. Create a new kind of order of protection that people can go to court to get to disarm them.

- Posted by Rich Miller   29 Comments      

A quick Janus roundup

Monday, Feb 26, 2018

* From the governor…

* Attorney General Lisa Madigan was hopeful after today’s oral arguments…

* But

Aside from Gorsuch’s silence, the most striking aspect of Monday’s argument was Justice Anthony Kennedy’s hostility to the unions’ position. He repeatedly tore into lawyers for the State of Illinois and for a major union as they defended the ‘fair share’ practice.

As Illinois Attorney General David Franklin argued that the agency fees help states by bolstering the unions’ role as a negotiating partner, Kennedy ridiculed that claim, contending that what the unions are really about is wielding political power.

“It can be a partner with you in advocating for a greater size workforce, against privatization, against merit promotion, … for teacher tenure, for higher wages, for massive government, for increasing bonded indebtedness, for increasing taxes?” Kennedy said almost angrily. “That’s the interest the state has?….Doesn’t it blink reality to deny that is what’s happening here?”

Earlier in the argument, Kennedy framed the so-called agency fees as a clear First Amendment violation.

“What we’re talking about here is compelled justification and compelled subsidization of a private party, a private party that expresses political views constantly,” the frequent swing justice and Reagan appointee said.

Kennedy’s comments were so strident that it sounded like he may have crafted a majority opinion striking down the fees in the case from last term, but was forced to put the opinion on ice when the court deadlocked after Scalia’s death.

* The Trump administration claimed the case wasn’t really a huge dealio…

The full transcript is here.

…Adding… Sun-Times

Union workers rallied Monday in front of the Picasso statue in Daley Plaza to denounce a lawsuit being heard that morning in the U.S. Supreme Court — a case they called an open-and-shut case of union busting.

“This court case was cynically designed to try and weaken the voices and power of working people,” said Kimberly Smith, a healthcare administrator and member of Service Employees International Union, Healthcare Illinois-Indiana, one of the organizers of the rally.

“In fact, destroying the union movement is what motivates [Gov. Bruce] Rauner — it’s all he thinks about before he goes to bed,” Smith told a cheering crowd of about 100.

* Video from a Saturday rally…

- Posted by Rich Miller   58 Comments      

Biss endorsed by Pantagraph and Cusack, slams Rauner, backs UIUC strike

Monday, Feb 26, 2018

* The Pantagraph’s endorsement of Sen. Daniel Biss favorably compares him to Barack Obama

When you cast your vote on March 20, the name not on the ballot is the name that counts: House Speaker Mike Madigan.

The race for governor — particularly the primary election — is more about who can work with Madigan than who has the best ideas to clean out the state’s monetary septic tank. […]

With a couple of terms under his belt as state legislator, he knows how Springfield works. He readily admits he’s part of a state government that has failed its citizens, which is why, he says, he is running for the top job.

He’s made friends; he knows where people stand. He knows how to get things done in a quiet, efficient way. He’s smart but accessible, explaining concepts in a way easily understood by students or — ahem — the middle class.

But he also is smart enough to weed out the half-truths and look solely at the numbers to reach his own interpretation.

Sort of like another state senator from Illinois who went on to great things.

* This one might be better…

* Meanwhile, from a press release…

Gov. Bruce Rauner is attending the National Governors Association dinner at the White House this year, a reverse in course from previous years where he went to great lengths to distance himself from Donald Trump. Rauner hardly mentioned Trump by name during the presidential campaign, he skipped the Republican National Convention in 2016 when Trump was nominated, and has rarely stood up to Trump since he was elected despite the vast number of Illinoisans who are negatively impacted by Trump’s policies.

“Bruce Rauner boycotted the National Governors Association dinner last year because he didn’t want to be associated with Trump,” said Daniel Biss. “Now, after a year of Donald Trump reducing access to healthcare, rolling back environmental protections, destroying net neutrality, terrorizing immigrant populations, and attacking working families, Bruce Rauner just couldn’t resist the opportunity to join a fellow billionaire businessman for dinner.

Bruce Rauner is more interested in protecting the billionaire class at the expense of the working class. And instead of taking responsibility for his failures as governor, Bruce Rauner is now trying to cozy up to Donald Trump as political cover in a contested primary against Jeanne Ives.”

* Press release…

Bruce Rauner’s continued war on working people and organized labor advances today as the United States Supreme Court hears oral arguments in Janus v. AFSCME. The key labor relations case, which Rauner has made a centerpiece of his reelection campaign, will determine whether the labor union who bargains on behalf of all government employees is legally entitled to collecting dues from non-members, despite the benefits they receive from collective bargaining on their behalf.

    “I’m proud to stand with working families,” said Daniel Biss. “Bruce Rauner came in to office with one goal: to reduce the power of organized labor to negotiate on behalf of working families, and to clear the way for billionaires and corporations to continue making record profits at our expense. And now his only crowning achievement as governor has made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court in the Janus v. AFSCME case. In the face of growing economic inequality in this country, we must ensure employees have the power to negotiate for fair pay and scheduling, good benefits, and for safe working conditions. To rule against collective bargaining is to rule against middle-class workers and the backbone of our economy, and to permanently enshrine protections for already powerful employers.”

Daniel Biss has made protecting workers a priority. He fought to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, passed bills to crack down on wage theft and close the pay equity gap, and as chairman of the Senate labor committee Daniel supported legislation that expands workers’ rights to negotiate for better pay and working conditions, sponsored the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, and fought against Rauner’s continued attacks on labor.

Bruce Rauner and the Republican Party have made weakening worker protections a key plank in their platform, from Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker to President Donald Trump. JB Pritzker and Chris Kennedy also have poor histories when it comes to union rights - Pritzker made his billions from the notoriously anti-union Hyatt, while Kennedy had a tumultuous relationship with labor while on the board of trustees at the University of Illinois.

* Press release…

Daniel Biss released the following statement as members of the Graduate Employees Organization at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign go on strike in pursuit of a fair contract.

“Graduate student workers, and all workers everywhere, deserve a voice in their workplace and the security of fair wages and working conditions—and going on strike is a crucial tool in securing these fundamental rights. I’m proud to stand in solidarity with the Graduate Employees Organization today, and I urge University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign to bargain in good faith and reach a fair contract.”

* Related…

* State Senator Daniel Biss: “We need to pass sensible gun safety legislation”

* SJ-R Candidate Questionnaire: Daniel Biss

* Ald. Pawar dissed Biss for holding news conference near Pritzker’s home

* Rich Candidates Square Off in Democratic Party Primaries - Party looks to build on sentiment against Trump, but slate of contenders may be hard for some voters to relate to

- Posted by Rich Miller   18 Comments      

*** UPDATED x1 *** #MeToo roundup: Madigan attorney defends; ILGOP attacks Pritzker; Proft PAC whacks Durkin; Kennedy releases plan

Monday, Feb 26, 2018

* Go read the whole thing

The attorney charged with looking into the sexual harassment complaint that rocked House Speaker Michael Madigan’s Democratic organization acknowledged she regrets she didn’t react faster after a female campaign worker said she received unwanted advances and text messages from a longtime Madigan loyalist.

“In hindsight, I wish I had put everything in my personal and professional life aside and focused solely on this until it was brought to a resolution,” Heather Wier Vaught, who examined the issue on behalf of Madigan’s political organization, told the Tribune.

Still in damage control over how Madigan handled harassment issues, the attorney outlined the fullest and most robust defense of what transpired in the speaker’s 13th Ward headquarters once campaign worker Alaina Hampton called out political operative Kevin Quinn for his relentless string of inappropriate texts, including one calling her “smoking hot.”

Wier Vaught, who delved into Hampton’s case at Madigan’s request, is representing the speaker’s political committee, Friends of Michael J. Madigan, and presented his side during a rare in-depth interview from a trusted insider.

Yet even as she expressed some regret, Wier Vaught attempted to cast the speaker’s team in a better light as he faces questions of whether he acted swiftly or forcefully enough when his state and political organizations learned of allegations of sexual harassment and harsh behavior among top lieutenants.

* Meanwhile, from the ILGOP…

“J.B. Pritzker is completely incapable of criticizing Madigan - for absolutely anything. Even as Illinois Democrats call on Madigan to resign his top party posts, you’d think a billionaire who claims ‘independence’ from Madigan would have the gumption to join in on the criticism, but no. Pritzker refuses to criticize Madigan because Pritzker owes his candidacy to Madigan and, if given the chance, would work hand in hand with him to maintain their corrupt, broken system in Springfield.” - Illinois Republican Party Spokesman Aaron DeGroot

Today, the Illinois Republican Party released a new digital ad, Unwillingness. The ad highlights J.B. Pritzker’s refusal to criticize Mike Madigan for his mishandling of sexual harassment complaints within his political organizations. Even as leading Illinois Democrats like Chris Kennedy and Daniel Biss call on Madigan to resign his top party posts, Pritzker remains silent. Why?

In their endorsement of Chris Kennedy in the Democratic primary for governor, The News-Gazette gives us a window into Pritzker’s candidacy for governor.

Whether it’s his undying loyalty to Mike Madigan, cozying up to crooked politicians like Rod Blagojevich, or devotion to personal ambition over the public interest, J.B. Pritzker is the status quo candidate who will protect and empower party bosses like Madigan, even as their political organizations are dominated by a culture of sexual harassment and corruption.

* The video

* I told subscribers about this new TV on Friday. Dan Proft’s Liberty Principles PAC has a new spot featuring Denise Rotheimer, who accused Sen. Ira Silverstein of sexual harassment. Rotheimer claims in the ad that House Republican Leader Jim Durkin and House Speaker Michael Madigan “both ignored claims of sexual harassment.”

“I called Jim Durkin to ask for his help” Rotheimer says as she looks into the camera. “I received none.”

Here it is...

* Speaking of Silverstein

The sexual-harassment issue is playing out in a big way in a four-way race for Chicago Democratic Sen. Ira Silverstein’s seat. An ethics officer found that the 19-year Senate veteran had acted unprofessionally in personal interaction with a legislative activist he was working with, but did not harass her. Silverstein said he’s received a “favorable response” from voters and his campaign is “moving on.” His opponents differ.

Ram Villivalam, a union leader who has raised $175,000 to Silverstein’s $236,000, said voters “need someone effective, someone proactive,” adding that after the harassment complaint, “I knew that he could not be effective moving forward.”

* Back to Proft. We discussed this ad last week. Here’s WGEM TV

Norine Hammond and Joshua Griffith are in a campaign to be the Republican who runs for Illinois’ 93rd District seat in November.

The campaign has turned contentious as a Super PAC backing Griffith has launched attack ads that accuse Hammond of trying to “silence” Denise Rotheimer, a woman who accused State Sen. Ira Silverstein of sexually inappropriate behavior. Rotheimer even appears in one ad.

Griffith’s campaign officially has only spent about $4,000 on the race but the Liberty Principles PAC has spent over $173,000 in media buys on behalf of Griffith’s candidacy.

Hammond sits on the Legislative Ethics Commission which Rotheimer thinks should’ve let her testify in front of.

The rules of the commission allow her to say little about these cases according to Hammond and thus she thinks it’s unfair to attack on her on the issue.

*** UPDATE *** Kennedy campaign…

Today, Chris Kennedy, Democratic candidate for Governor, released his plan to combat the rampant sexual harassment in political campaigns across Illinois. Last week, the Illinois County Chairs’ Association released a pledge for all candidates regarding sexual harassment policies. Kennedy believes that pledge does not go far enough, though it goes farther than the silence from the Illinois Republican Party on this issue.

“The political culture in Springfield has allowed rampant sexual harassment to go unchecked for far too long,” Kennedy said. “Only now under pressure from the media and the MeToo movement is Speaker Madigan caving and agreeing to an investigation. The problem is we can’t allow politicians to investigate themselves. We need an independent committee to ensure the safety of staff in the political workplace. My plan will provide a true statewide policy for all political campaigns and an independent investigator to stop wrong doing.”

The Kennedy-Joy administration would create an independent committee within the State Board of Elections to investigate claims of sexual and workplace harassment including requiring lobbyists to register as agents of the campaign. This proposal will allow everyone working on a campaign to be held accountable for their actions. The temporary nature of campaigns requires swift and immediate action that cannot be expediently fulfilled by filing a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights, although this option would always be open to a person claiming harassment. The following procedure is a framework of key elements designed to specifically address the expediency required in cases of harassment that occur during the course of political campaigns:

Harassment Prevention

    All campaigns will be required as a filing requirement to publicly post and provide employees with information of their rights and how to proceed with filing a complaint at the State Board of Elections.
    All employees and interns will be required to sign a statement acknowledging that they understand a campaign’s policies regarding harassment and pledge not to engage in that behavior.
    All employees will receive sexual harassment training by a third party provider.
    All lobbyists working on a campaign will be required to register as an agent of that campaign so that they can be held responsible for their behavior while working on behalf of the campaign.

Harassment Investigation Committee at the State Board of Elections

    The Commissioners of the State Board of Elections will appoint a standing independent committee of four bipartisan (two Democrats, two Republicans) outside legal counselors who have the necessary skills and experience to investigate claims of harassment.
    An employee, consultant or intern who believes he or she has been the victim of sexual harassment, or who has witnessed the sexual harassment of another, has the right to report a complaint directly to the committee. The committee will maintain the anonymity of the complainant at all times.
    This committee will have discovery power. They will be able to conduct interviews and compel document disclosures including relevant emails, text messages, and other forms of communication.
    A final report will be required within 30 days of the initial complaint.
    If the committee declines to pursue the claim, the claimant will be referred to the Department of Human Rights if they wish to continue pursuing the claim.
    If the committee finds that harassment has occurred, the committee will be empowered to levy a fine on the principal for whom the offending individual is an agent. The principal may be a campaign, a party organization, or a company or organization for whom a lobbyist is under contract. All fines will be public record. The committee can also take direct action against the individual, up to and including a prohibition on involvement in a campaign or requiring termination.
    There will be an online database of all ruled incidents noting the accused individual and the committee’s determination for the past ten years. The committee will be required to consult this database prior to adjudication of complaints to help determine if a pattern or practice of harassment exists.
    An anonymous reporting hotline will be established. The committee shall review hotline complaints to uncover problems of sexual harassment and shall have the power to independently initiate an investigation based on hotline tips received.

This process will hold individuals, campaigns, lobbyists, and political organizations responsible for incidents of workplace and sexual harassment. No longer will cultures that tolerate abuse be allowed to exist and thrive unchecked.

- Posted by Rich Miller   26 Comments      

Kennedy endorses gun/bullet tax, endorsed by News-Gazette and Mavis Staples

Monday, Feb 26, 2018

* Sun-Times

U.S. Rep. Danny Davis, joined by Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Chris Kennedy, announced Sunday he plans to introduce a bill this week that would raise federal taxes on the purchase of guns and ammunition.

The Gun Violence Prevention and Safe Communities Act would increase federal excise taxes on shells and cartridges from 11 percent to 50 percent. It also calls for an increase in taxes on the sale of pistols and revolvers from 10 percent to 20 percent.

Taxes on other firearms, including assault weapons, would rise from 11 percent to 20 percent under the legislation Davis said he plans to introduce Tuesday.

Money collected by the tax increase would go toward funding anti-violence programs.

“There’s no reason to have the ability for individual citizens to walk around with assault weapons,” Davis said, noting that a goal of the legislation is to make buying bullets for such weapons cost prohibitive.

“We need to ban assault rifles in the state of Illinois. But until then, we need to tax everyone so they pay their fair share,” Kennedy said.

* CBS 2

Democratic candidate for governor Chris Kennedy joined Davis outside Mount Sinai Hospital saying bullet and gun producers should shoulder the cost.

“I think we’ve made the moral argument. I think we’ve made the religious argument. We’ve made the theological argument. We’ve made the legal argument,” says Kennedy. “We’ve made the justice argument that the violence needs to end. And today we’re making the financial argument.”

* On to the News-Gazette’s endorsement

In this field, Kennedy is the superior candidate.

Liberal voters who want a liberal governor will have no complaints with his approach to the issues. At the same time, he’s made it clear that he has no use for the Democratic insiders who’ve enriched themselves through their political connections. That includes people like Madigan, Cook County Assessor Joseph Berrios and many others known and unknown by the people of Illinois.

Kennedy, a scion of the political family, has emphasized economic development and improved educational opportunities for the people and children of Illinois.

All the candidates cite those issues, and they mean it — to one degree or another.

Kennedy seems particularly sincere about education. But achieving his goals will never happen unless he or others create a business atmosphere that provides the kind of job opportunities — and tax revenues — that sustain a strong and growing middle class. […]

There’s no use pretending The News-Gazette sees eye to eye with Kennedy on every issue. Our philosophical differences are vast. Nonetheless, he’s a sincere advocate for his causes and would be a strong candidate in the fall election.

* This is a better one…

* Only two weekend Saturday events were on Kennedy’s public schedule…

Saturday, February 23:

Lake County Meet and Greet
474 Central Avenue, Highland Park, IL 60035
10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Chris Kennedy will host a Meet and Greet with local supporters.

Invest to Elect Forum
New Trier Township High School Northfield, 7 N Happ Rd, Northfield, IL 60093
2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Chris Kennedy will participate in Invest to Elect’s Candidate Forum

He also marched in yesterday’s Chinatown Lunar New Year Parade.

…Adding… I searched my in-box for his Sunday schedule and didn’t see it. Here it is…

Sunday, February 25:

Chris Kennedy Church Visit
Apostolic Church of God, 6320 S Dorchester Ave, Chicago, IL 60637
9:10 a.m. to 10:10 a.m.

Chris Kennedy will attend service at Apostolic Church of God

Press Conference with Congressman Danny Davis
Mount Sinai Hospital Emergency Room, 1500 S California Ave, Chicago, IL 60608
10:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

Chris Kennedy will speak at a press conference with Congressman Danny Davis

Chris Kennedy Church Visit
First Pentecostal Church of God, 5146 S Ashland Ave, Chicago, IL 60609
12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Chris Kennedy will attend service and speak at First Pentecostal Church of God

Chinatown Lunar New Year Parade
W 24th St & S Wentworth Ave, Chicago, IL 60616
1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Chris Kennedy will walk in the Chinatown Lunar New Year Parade


* Sneed

Kissin’ Cousins . . .

All in the family: U.S. Congressman Joe Kennedy III, who hit town last week to stump for Dem gubernatorial candidate Chris Kennedy, told a private, no-press-allowed gathering in Chicago last week: “He [Chris] is always there for the family. The one we all look up to. The one we count on. His birthday is July 4, one big reason we chose that date for the entire family to come together once a year.”


Hill swill: The anti-J.B. Pritzker-for-Illinois-governor contingents are clucking and clack-clack-clacking over whether J.B., who stuffed gobs of green stuff into Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign coffers — will invite Hillary to stump for him now that her popularity is listless in the polls.

Place a bet anyone?

- Posted by Rich Miller   51 Comments      

The circular firing squad heads to court

Monday, Feb 26, 2018

* I posted a press release about this topic on late Friday afternoon. Here’s the Deerfield Patch

Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan isn’t just a factor in Democratic primaries, he’s also coming into play on the Republican side. Upset at being linked to the leader of the state Democratic Party in his opponent’s recent campaign literature, one of two Lincolnshire Republicans seeking to replace outgoing state Rep. Carol Sente in the north suburban 59th District filed a lawsuit in Lake County Court demanding a retraction and apology.

The ads in question were sent by the House Republican Organization on behalf of the campaign of Karen Feldman, a realtor and Lincolnshire trustee.

The mailers accuse her opponent, Marko Sukovic, a graduating senior at the University of Illinois with own political consulting firm, of taking “tens of thousands of dollars in cold hard cash from Mike Madigan’s closest allies.”

However, a look at Sukovic’s campaign filings with Illinois State Board of Elections reveals that he’s reported raising less than $10,000 – much of it from family members.

Nonetheless, according to the crudely photoshopped mailers, “Mike Madigan and his henchman are pulling Marko Sukovic’s strings.”

* Daily Herald

When reached for comment about the suit, filed Thursday, Feldman wrote in an email: “I just received news of the lawsuit this afternoon. I am meeting with my attorneys this weekend and will have a better understanding of it next week. However, the lawsuit has nothing to do with me.”

Sukovic, a 22-year-old graduating senior from the University of Illinois and owner of a public relations firm, is running to occupy the seat soon to be vacated by Rep. Carol Sente. […]

Joe Woodward, political director of the House Republican Organization, didn’t directly address the lawsuit or the mailer in an email Saturday, but said that “Sukovic is upset that HRO vetted both him and Karen Feldman, and came to the conclusion that Karen Feldman is a much stronger candidate for the 59th district.”

The initial hearing in the suit is scheduled for March 2.

* E-mail from Karen Feldman…

Marko’s lawsuit, as it pertains to me, is without merit. I have retained counsel, and Friday morning we will be presenting a motion to dismiss me from the matter. Marko and his dad have filed a vexatious and frivolous lawsuit without making a good-faith inquiry into either the law or facts. They both know I had nothing to do with the political mailings sent out by House Republican organization. Adding me to the suit is nothing more than an attempt to distract the voters. I will have further comment after the court hearing this coming Friday.

* One of the mailers…

- Posted by Rich Miller   21 Comments      

Mendoza, Bustos and Ammons lay out course for panel’s future

Monday, Feb 26, 2018

* Tribune

Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza says House Speaker Michael Madigan “has to do better” on the issue of sexual harassment.

Madigan recently appointed Mendoza to a new panel on the future of women in the Democratic Party, but the Democratic comptroller said Sunday that the group won’t weigh in on the longtime speaker’s future as state party chairman.

“Our panel, first of all, is focused on not playing the politics of this but doing the work of fixing the problem. And this is such a problem that is so much bigger than any one person or any one party,” Mendoza said Sunday on WGN AM-720. […]

“The mission of the panel is to engage our primary stakeholders, women in Democratic politics, to identify and help eliminate obstacles, including sexual harassment, and to elevate women into positions of leadership in the Democratic Party of Illinois by providing recommendations to promote a culture of equity, safety and respect,” Mendoza said.

The full interview is here.

* Press release…

Anti-Harassment, Equality and Access Panel co-chairs Comptroller Susana Mendoza, Congresswoman Cheri Bustos and State Representative Carol Ammons, have notified Democratic Party of Illinois officials of the steps they are taking to ensure their panel’s independence to advance women’s leadership in the Democratic Party and address sexual harassment in the workplace.

Today they released a letter they sent to the Chairman of the Democratic Party of Illinois, Michael Madigan, outlining the core mission of the panel - “to engage our primary stakeholder, women in Democratic politics, to identify and help eliminate obstacles, including sexual harassment, and to elevate women into positions of leadership in the Democratic Party of Illinois by providing recommendations to promote a culture of equity, safety, and respect.”

They named their panel the Anti-Harassment, Equality, and Access Panel because it is reflective of the multitude of issues women in politics are faced with every day.

* The letter…

Democratic Party of Illinois
Michael J. Madigan,

Dear Chairman Madigan,

During the last year, there has been a groundswell of energy, enthusiasm and resolve building behind the #MeToo movement. For too long, women across our nation and our state have been subjected to illegal and unacceptable behavior in the workplace from supervisors, coworkers and colleagues, and they have come together to say “No more!”

Sexual harassment and inequality have damaged the lives and undermined the careers of countless women in every profession. All of us share in the responsibility to address this long-standing and pervasive ill that exists in our culture that has spanned generations.

As elected officials in the Democratic Party, we have an obligation to lead and to make sure that all Americans — female or male — have the opportunity to put in a hard day’s work for a hard day’s pay in an environment free from sexual harassment.

It is in this spirit that we have accepted your request to convene a panel that will examine how Illinois Democrats can better protect campaign staffers, candidates, government employees and political consultants from sexual harassment.

We are approaching this challenge with open minds and a commitment to providing real solutions based on input from human resources experts, legal experts and survivors to develop a comprehensive set of recommendations.

After discussing the scope of this project, we have determined that, for the sake of maintaining the integrity of our work, this panel must be completely independent from any oversight beyond the three of us as equal co-chairs. While we expect the full cooperation of the Democratic Party of Illinois in working to implement our recommendations, we believe that achieving the level of independence we are committed to requires us to fund this effort ourselves. To that end, we will establish an independent funding mechanism to pay for the staff, research, legal and human resources expertise necessary to develop an effective and fact-based set of recommendations. We will hire our own staff without input from the Democratic Party of Illinois.

Our goal is to provide a set of forward-facing guidelines to be adopted by all Democratic officeholders, campaigns and nonprofit organizations to eliminate institutional protections for abusers and provide resources to help survivors continue in their careers. Additionally, we will examine the barriers that have held back women from holding higher leadership in our Party. Because we know that, as Democrats, our strength has always come from our diversity.

It is not the role of this panel to conduct an investigation into any specific instances of alleged sexual harassment. However, we plan to speak with those who have bravely stood up and shared their stories to get a firsthand understanding of what they went through. That way, moving forward, we can do a better job of protecting hard-working women in our Party.

We appreciate this unique opportunity to serve as panel members and look forward to starting our important work.

Comptroller Susana A. Mendoza

Congresswoman Cheri Bustos

Rep. Carol Ammons

- Posted by Rich Miller   7 Comments      

Ives up with new TV ad, but does she have enough money to keep it on the air?

Monday, Feb 26, 2018

* Politico

As governors from across the country descend on Washington for the annual meeting of the National Governors Association, here is POLITICO’s updated list of the 10 governorships most likely to change parties in November.

1. Illinois — Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner is running for reelection. (Previous ranking: 1)

Rauner remains the most vulnerable governor in America — but much has changed ahead of the March 20 primary. Rauner’s primary challenger, state Rep. Jeanne Ives, is running incendiary television ads aimed at turning conservatives against the incumbent. But things may be even more unsettled on the Democratic side: Controversial comments by self-funding front-runner J.B. Pritzker about African-Americans has widened an opening for his opponents in the primary. State Sen. Daniel Biss has emerged as a top competitor to Pritzker in the primary and points to polls of him leading Rauner in the general election. Both Rauner and Pritzker have been forced to begin airing attack ads against their two main primary rivals. Rauner and Pritkzer, both billionaires, are still likely to win their bruising primaries, setting up the general election to be among the most expensive state races in the nation’s history.

Some of this info is a bit outdated. The African-American controversy, for one, seems to be fading. And as I told you Friday, Ives’ campaign has been running on fumes. Since I posted that quickie analysis, some Republican operatives said Ives was off (or, at the very least, “dramatically reduced from where she was earlier this month”) network TV last week. She did have about $80K in cable ads running in Chicagoland. I did see one of her ads last night on WCIA.

* With that in mind

Jeanne Ives, a West Point grad and the conservative reform Republican candidate for governor, has released new :30 second ad, “Respect.”

“What the hell is wrong with this Governor?” Ives asked rhetorically at a press conference last week calling on Governor Rauner to remove veterans and their families from the Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy after 4 more cases of Legionnaires’ Disease where reported in the past week.

The ad is in response to this ongoing crisis that has already claimed 13 lives and produced 11 negligence lawsuits against the state over the past 2.5 years and to Governor Rauner’s lethal mishandling of it.

In July 2016, Governor Rauner said his administration was “really on top” of the situation at the Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy.

After that pronouncement, 3 more people got sick. A Korean war veteran died.

Recently, after his January PR stunt of staying at the home, Rauner told the Crain’s editorial board in response to a question as to whether he would’ve done anything differently in handling the crisis, “We handled it exceptionally well and we would not do anything different.”

13 people are dead and Governor Rauner says he wouldn’t have done anything different. Astounding.

Since that pronouncement, 4 more people have gotten sick.

A West Point Graduate and Army veteran, Ives has used her platform as a candidate for governor to draw attention to the crisis. She has repeatedly called on Governor Rauner to end his press release politics and respond to the crisis with urgency and prudence.

* The ad

- Posted by Rich Miller   17 Comments      

Unclear on the concept

Monday, Feb 26, 2018

* National Politico on the Janus v. AFSCME case and Janus himself

Public-employee unions are barred from spending fair-share fees on electoral politics, but attorneys for the plaintiff, an Illinois state worker named Mark Janus, argue that any action by a government union — even collective bargaining — is inherently political, because it involves the expenditure of state money. Ergo, spending Janus’s money on anything constitutes forced political speech and violates his First Amendment rights. AFSCME counters that since the law requires it to bargain collectively for an entire bargaining unit — including union non-members like Janus — then depriving AFSCME of fair-share fees would make it possible for Janus and others to enjoy the benefits of collective bargaining without having to pay for them. Members’ resulting stampede to quit the union and become free riders, says AFSCME, would devastate AFSCME financially — and that’s the real goal.

At a breakfast meeting with reporters Friday, Janus wandered a bit off-script. Far from denouncing collective bargaining as compelled political speech, Janus said “I think unions have a place. Collective bargaining is beneficial to people and workers. But where I draw the line is when somebody tells me that I have to pay something that I don’t agree with.”

Like what? Janus didn’t elaborate. But, writes POLITICO’s Andrew Hanna, Janus “suggested that he opposed AFSCME using his fair-share fee to support the presidential candidacy of Hillary Clinton, and said he’d be troubled if his fair-share fee went to any other candidate, ‘whoever the candidate may be,’ without his being consulted.” Again: the law already bars AFSCME from spending Janus’s fair-share fees on political candidates or causes, and Janus’s lawyers aren’t arguing that AFSCME violated that law. If Janus’s real beef is that AFSCME supported Hillary Clinton, then he isn’t a good plaintiff for this case.

…Adding… From Gov. Rauner…

From Governor Rauner on today’s SCOTUS arguments:

“Shortly after taking office in 2015, I took action to protect the free speech and free association rights of government employees who are forced to pay union dues and fund political causes they don’t agree with. Today, as these arguments are heard before the United States Supreme Court, I am proud of what we started three years ago. The gravity of the court’s decision will be felt not just in Illinois, but across America and I am confident that they will side with free speech for the people of our great nation.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   44 Comments      

Rauner’s amazingly fast flip-flop on arming teachers

Monday, Feb 26, 2018

* That evolved quickly

On Friday, Gov. Rauner was in Champaign, where he said President Donald Trump’s concept of arming teachers to prevent gun violence in schools should be discussed.

“I certainly support having armed security at schools,” Rauner told reporters. “I think we should have a discussion about teachers themselves. I think there’s arguments pro and con, we should look forward to that discussion.”

By Saturday, Rauner’s campaign had emailed a statement to the Belleville News-Democrat after the the St. Clair County GOP’s Lincoln Day gala.

“No, teachers should be focused on education. We need armed school resource officers, emergency training for students, and we need to get guns out of the hands of criminals and those with mental illnesses,” the Rauner statement said, according to the newspaper.

* From that BND article

Teachers who want to be armed should be allowed to come to school with a gun, Ives said. Teachers who do not want to be armed “absolutely should not,” she added.

“Look, you only carry if you want to,” Ives said. “If you’re not comfortable using it or you don’t regularly go for practice, then you shouldn’t carry it. If there are certain teachers who maybe have a law enforcement background, maybe have a military background, know that carrying and practicing on a regular basis could prevent a tragedy in the future, I’m willing to do that.”

* NBC 5

“There’s so much that we need to do, but it’s not arming teachers in classrooms, or getting rid of gun-free zones around schools,” JB Pritzker said.

Fellow candidate Daniel Biss echoed those sentiments.

“The last thing I want is guns in those classrooms,” he said.

In a display of party unity, candidate Chris Kennedy slammed the president’s proposal.

“That’s like the craziest idea, and it’s offensive to everything that I believe in,” he said. “We do not want to send our children to school in a war zone.”

* In other news, the House is taking up several gun-related bills this week

Republican lawmakers said they would review the specifics of the legislation, but they questioned whether there were ulterior motives behind Madigan’s announcement. The veteran speaker has been under fire in recent weeks for his handling of sexual harassment and bullying complaints lodged against two of his top political workers, who have since left Madigan’s campaign organizations.

“It is timely that we talk about this, but let’s not let this distract from Speaker Madigan’s own problems,” said Rep. Grant Wehrli, a Republican from Naperville and frequent critic of the speaker. “He continues to hide from the accusations within his own organization, and once again is trying to slink off.”

Madigan’s call for action was backed by Cardinal Blase Cupich, who was invited to the Capitol for Wednesday’s votes. Gun control supporters also are planning a large rally.

“It is not too much to say that innocent people are dying as much from lack of courage and political will among our leaders as from bullets,” Cupich said in a statement.

- Posted by Rich Miller   61 Comments      

A different sort of “Madigan Tax”

Monday, Feb 26, 2018

* My weekly syndicated newspaper column

Every election cycle, House Democratic candidates have to pay what can be thought of as a “Madigan Tax.”

The “tax” is the amount of extra campaign money, labor and ingenuity required to overcome the voting public’s strong negative perception of being in any way associated with House Speaker Michael Madigan.

The tax has always been imposed because Madigan has always been unpopular in this state. But the tax rate has risen over the years as Madigan’s familiarity and unpopularity have grown.

Back in October of 2012, a Chicago Tribune/WGN-TV poll found that 38 percent of Illinoisans had no opinion either way about Madigan. Of those who did, 22 percent approved of his job performance, compared to 40 percent who disapproved.

And then Bruce Rauner got into the game and his constant, well-funded attacks on Madigan made the longtime House Speaker much better known to the average voter.

Just 11 percent of voters had no opinion of Madigan in a 2017 poll taken for the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute. Not only did lots more voters know who Madigan was, they also despised him. Madigan’s disapproval rating was 61 percent in that poll, well above his 26 percent approval rating.

That could explain why Madigan’s House Democrats lost four net seats in 2016, despite a strong statewide win by Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Part of the blame can go to Donald Trump, who did well in Downstate areas held by Democrats, but a big reason was that the Madigan tax had become too high in those districts.

The “#MeToo” controversy swirling around Madigan these days has the potential to make that tax rate even more prohibitive for Madigan’s operation. He’s taken two substantial hits over the past several days which might have sunk a lesser man. Madigan had to dump two top campaign advisers after “#MeToo” scandals and more controversy is almost undoubtedly on the way.

While the focus should be on the victims, we cannot escape the political realities.

With that in mind, keep an eye on the 17th House District Democratic primary race on the tony North Shore. The district is currently represented by Rep. Laura Fine (D-Glenview), who is running unopposed in the Senate primary. Rep. Fine and several other local political leaders have endorsed Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz. But Candace Chow has enough money and support to compete.

Chow also has some very slick direct mailers.

“Candance Chow didn’t need Mike Madigan to get from a trailer park to Kellogg Business School,” declares her latest mail piece. “And she doesn’t need him now.” The front features a graduation cap on which somebody has taped the phrase “No Thx Mike.” Clever.

Chow’s campaign took a poll late last year which found 60 percent of the district’s likely Democratic voters (not all voters, just Democratic voters) had an unfavorable view of Speaker Madigan, while just 36 percent of Democrats viewed him favorably. 70 percent of the district’s Democrats expressed doubts about voting for a candidate who was backed by Madigan and his team.

Madigan has never played particularly well in that more liberal part of the world and Chow’s mailer goes on to trash him further. “While others lean on Mike Madigan and Springfield lobbyists, Candance Chow is the progressive, independent Democrat, who will put our schools and our families first.”

Chow has also recently taken to demanding that Gong-Gershowitz return Madigan’s campaign contributions. The House Speaker has dumped over $50K into the Gong-Gershowitz bid so far, mainly on mail and staff.

“It’s become clear that Jennifer’s campaign is under the control of Mike Madigan’s political operation,” Chow said of Gong-Gershowitz in a press release earlier this month. Chow’s release also noted Madigan “is under a growing cloud from charges of sexual harassment.”

Last week, Chow called for Madigan’s resignation from his Democratic Party chairmanship “in light of continued reports of sexual harassment and abuse of power within his political operation.”

Noting that Gong-Gershowitz had yet to comment on the Madigan stories, Chow said, “It makes you wonder how much autonomy her campaign truly has from Madigan at this point.”

There are six candidates in this primary race, which should benefit Gong-Gershowitz because she has big-name local backing and is raising lots of Statehouse money and has ground support. Under normal circumstances, even with the “Madigan Tax,” she would be expected to walk away with this one. But these aren’t normal times.

Whatever happens, Chow’s attempt to turn Madigan’s already controversial contributions into fatal poison with the “MeToo” issue is a first. And it might just spread. He could possibly wind up being “taxed” out of existence.

- Posted by Rich Miller   23 Comments      

Pritzker roundup: Strong endorsement and strong criticism; Exhausting schedule; Another Biss hit

Monday, Feb 26, 2018

* JB Pritzker started off his weekend with a super strong endorsement by the Chicago Sun-Times

Among the essential leaders in building Chicago’s vibrant tech industry, which barely existed two decades ago, has been J.B. Pritzker, whom we endorse in the Democratic primary for governor. He bought into the vision of “Silicon Prairie” early on, as a venture capitalist and public servant. He has put his energy, leadership and money behind it ever since.

Pritzker founded 1871, the tech business incubator in the Merchandise Mart credited with creating some 7,000 jobs. This remarkable nonprofit has raised Chicago’s profile nationwide as a high-tech hub. He served as chairman of Chicago’s Technology and Entrepreneurship Committee. He was a founder of Matter, the nonprofit healthcare technology incubator.

This kind of future-focused approach to economic development is precisely what Illinois sorely needs right now. It is also reflective of what seems to be Pritzker’s philosophy for trying to make a difference in this world: work it from the bottom up.

That’s the common thread — start at the beginning — running through Pritzker’s many years of public service, whether he was supporting new technology, working to expand childcare services and early-childhood education, or simply trying to provide every child with a good school breakfast.

Pritzker saw the promise and nurtured it.

That was one of the strongest I’ve ever seen for anyone. Not all, but many of the endorsements received by other candidates in both primaries have been less than full-throated.

* For instance, the News-Gazette’s endorsement of Chris Kennedy focused a lot of its attention on Pritzker

Chicago businessman and former University of Illinois Board of Trustees Chairman Chris Kennedy is a relatively easy choice to make among a crowded Democratic field that features three leading candidates — Kennedy, billionaire businessman J.B. Pritzker and state Sen. Daniel Biss of Evanston.

Pritzker is the favored candidate of party leaders, virtually all of whom fell in line after Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan made it clear that he wanted Pritzker to self-finance his race for governor, allowing Madigan to use his many millions in campaign contributions to re-elect an overwhelmingly Democratic Legislature.

Pritzker obviously chose his parents well, but he’s established himself as a businessman of some repute. Nonetheless, when it comes to politics, he gives the impression of a candidate who’s running to become something rather than do something.

Whether he’s on the telephone with former Gov. Rod Blagojevich groveling for appointment to what he hoped would be a vacant state treasurer’s post or toadying for Madigan in his quest to become governor, Pritzker comes across as a hollow man with a passing interest in issues and a surpassing interest in fulfilling his ambition to be more than just another billionaire.

* The Republican Governors Association used that Kennedy endorsement to concern-troll Democratic voters…

It’s become clear that with his numerous scandals and ties to Madigan and Blagojevich, J.B. Pritzker is a general election nightmare for Illinois democrats.

* Meanwhile, I’ve condensed this press release to take out the pics, but Pritzker’s Sunday schedule made me tired just reading it…

Yesterday, JB Pritzker spoke with voters at nine events throughout the Chicagoland area. At the stops, JB highlighted his plans to put Springfield back on the side of working families by creating jobs, expanding healthcare, and investing in education.

JB began the morning at Mount Carmel Bible Church. He continued to Friendship Missionary Baptist Church. JB then spoke at Greater Rock Missionary Baptist Church. Afterwards, JB headed over to Greater Garfield Missionary Baptist Church. For his last church stop, JB spoke with congregants at the Greater Open Door Baptist Church.

After the church stops, JB headed to the collar counties to encourage getting out the vote on March 20th. The first stop was in Grayslake to speak with voters at the Lake County Democratic Convention. JB then headed to Aurora to speak at the Kane County Democrats Truman Dinner. For his next stop, JB spoke with volunteers at a JB for governor phone bank in Aurora. And for the final event of the night, JB attended the DuPage County NAACP Freedom Fund Gala.

* One more item of note…

Today, the JB Pritzker campaign released a new digital ad, “Dan’s Record,” highlighting Biss’ votes to cut pensions, increase charter funding at the expense of neighborhood public schools, and garnish wages of those who fall behind on student loans.

At the State Journal-Register/WMAY debate on Wednesday, Dan Biss said “I’m running on my record of seven years in the legislature, passing progressive laws, making tough choices.” But let’s see what that really looks like.

“Dan Biss voted to cut pensions for 467,000 state workers, including teachers and nurses, fill charter coffers at the expense of neighborhood public schools, and garnish wages of those struggling to repay student loans,” said Pritzker communications director Galia Slayen. “That’s not ‘making tough choices,’ that’s Dan Biss abandoning working families at every opportunity.”

* The video

* Script…

Narrator: Dan Biss says he’s a proven progressive.

Biss: I’m running on my record, seven years in the legislature, passing progressive laws, making tough choices.

Narrator: Biss wrote the law that slashed pension benefits owed to teachers, nurses and state workers. The court ruled it unconstitutional.

Biss: I’m running on my record.

Narrator: Biss voted to increase funding for charter schools at the expense of neighborhood public schools, and he’s supported by a pro-charter group who’s fought for school privatization.

Biss: I’m running on my record.

Narrator: Biss has the lowest lifetime rating from the AFL-CIO of any Democratic state Senator.

Biss: I’m running on my record.

Narrator: Biss joined Republicans in Springfield and voted to let the state garnish wages when people fall behind on student loans. Dan Biss, take a look for yourself.

* Other stuff…

* ADDED: Press Release: Unions, State and Community Leaders, and Newspapers Endorse JB for Governor: With 22 days until the primary election, support continues to build for JB and Juliana’s campaign. In the past week alone, the Chicago Sun-Times, Crain’s Chicago Business, the Illinois Nurses Association, ATU Local 308, State Sen. Toi Hutchinson, State Rep. Mike Halpin, 14 Rock Island County elected officials, 50 suburban mayors, and Chicago City Council’s Veterans Caucus have all announced their support.

* Pritzker pledges support to — and seeks support from — black women: Democratic gubernatorial hopeful J.B. Pritzker on Friday vowed to a room of more than 600 African-American women that he’d be an “ally,” while calling them the “lifeblood” of a “resistance and grassroots movement.” … “Since January 20th of 2017, we have seen a resistance and a grassroots movement take hold in this country like nothing that any of us have seen in an awfully long time,” Pritzker said. “Women, and specifically black women are the lifeblood of that movement.” … And Preckwinkle once again defended Pritzker regarding the FBI tapes: “First of all it’s hard for me to remember conversations that I had 10 years ago. Secondly, there isn’t anybody who wouldn’t be uncomfortable with something they said on the telephone, wouldn’t want it on the front page of a newspaper,” Preckwinkle said. “So, I think this is kind of a mountain out of a molehill.”

* SJ-R Candidate Questionnaire: J.B. Pritzker

* Zorn: Shameful decision by a Downstate TV station allows Pritzker to cancel a debate: And it’s very common for front-running and well-funded candidates to play it safe and limit — or decline altogether — risky debates that are likely to elevate the profile of their opponents. You’re entitled to be indignant about this tactic only if you have never supported a candidate who has employed it, and unless you’re a new voter, odds are that you have. My indignation is reserved here for the management of WCIA, which announced Monday that, in light of Pritzker’s decision not to appear, the debate was off.

* Spot the differences between the two Jewish candidates for Illinois governor: Both Pritzker and Biss credit their Jewish background for who they are. Pritzker and his relatives are longtime donors to Jewish causes, and Pritzker includes his support of the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center in his campaign website biography. He also has served on the national board of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the pro-Israel lobby. … Biss is descended from an Israeli mother and grandparents who survived the Holocaust. He grew up in a secular, culturally Jewish family. He told the Chicago Sun-Times that his maternal grandparents gave him “a deep sense of Jewish identity” but not “a strong sense of ritual observance or literal belief, necessarily.” His grandparents on the other side “had kind of a Marxist view on religion.”

* Pritzker working to shed Blagojevich baggage: “We’ve got this unusual situation of the Republican incumbent governor is coming after a Democrat in a Democratic primary,” Pritzker said. “Why do you think that is? Because he knows he can’t beat me in the general election, so he’s going to try to beat me in our own Democratic primary. It’s not working. It’s clearly not working.”

* Pritzker pushes public option for Illinois health care

- Posted by Rich Miller   33 Comments      

Rauner in DC for Janus arguments

Monday, Feb 26, 2018

* Lynn Sweet

WASHINGTON — Gov. Bruce Rauner, making his first official visit here since taking office — and faced with a primary challenge from the right — headed to the Trump White House Sunday and Monday on to the Supreme Court to hear arguments in the anti-union Janus v AFSCME, a case launched by Rauner.

Here’s an overview of Rauner’s official visit to the city that he has gone to lengths to avoid since being sworn in as governor in January 2015.

• Rauner has been doing everything possible to put distance between himself and President Donald Trump. He even skipped the 2016 GOP convention. Yet on Sunday night, Rauner and his wife, Diana, were going to the White House for the annual National Governors Association Governors’ Ball.

Rauner, according to his spokesman, Patty Schuh, was aiming to go to the White House on Monday morning for a working meeting Trump will have with Democratic and Republican governors here for the NGA 2018 Winter Meeting.

However, the timing may not work for Rauner to do both. He will have a seat in the Supreme Court for the Janus v AFSCME oral arguments, to start 9 a.m. Chicago time.

* He made it to the White House…

* AFSCME yesterday…

Two new stories published today in the New York Times and the Guardian reveal that the Janus v. AFSCME case — although fronted by a lone state employee from Illinois — is actually part of a “broad campaign against public-sector unions, backed by some of the biggest donors on the right.”

NEW YORK TIMES: Behind a Key Anti-Labor Case, a Web of Conservative Donors

    “Conservative donors have created a symbiosis between groups aiming to overturn Supreme Court precedent favorable to unions and groups that take advantage of those rulings to drain unions of members.”

    “Tax filings show that [Richard] Uihlein has also been the chief financial backer in recent years of the Liberty Justice Center, which represents Mark Janus … And Mr. Uihlein has donated well over $1 million over the years to groups like the Federalist Society that work to orient the judiciary in a more conservative direction. They have helped produce a Supreme Court that most experts expect to rule in Mr. Janus’s favor.”

GUARDIAN: Fears Grow As Rightwing Billionaires Battle to Erode US Union Rights

    “Conservative activists and thinktanks, backed by corporate donors including the Koch brothers and the Bradley Foundation, have long been preparing for this moment, as part of a larger campaign to tilt the democratic process to the right. …

    “A Guardian review of public records shows that the Bradley Foundation, a Wisconsin-based mega-donor to rightwing causes, has invested heavily in the anti-union campaign. Since the 1990s, the donor has given $30.5m to 24 conservative groups that have supported the legal assaults against public sector unions that have reached the supreme court. The two sponsors of the Janus case, the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation and the Illinois Policy Institute’s Liberty Justice Center, have between them received $1.6m in Bradley donations since 2003.”


McClatchy: Web of secret money hides one mega-donor funding conservative court

    “When a small nonprofit called the Judicial Crisis Network poured millions into a campaign to stop the Senate from confirming Barack Obama’s Supreme Court pick last year, and then spent millions more supporting President Donald Trump’s choice for the same seat, political observers assumed conservatives from around the country were showering the group with donations.

    “Newly obtained tax documents show that JCN’s money came almost entirely from yet another secretive nonprofit, the Wellspring Committee, which flooded JCN with nearly $23.5 million in 2016.

    “Most of Wellspring’s funds, in turn, came from a single mysterious donor who gave the organization almost $28.5 million — nearly 90 percent of its $32.2 million in revenues. …

    “Illinois Policy Action was another organization that benefited from Wellspring’s grants in 2016, receiving $2.5 million; it’s the lobbying arm of the Illinois Policy Institute, a conservative Chicago think tank in Chicago that has ties to the state’s billionaire governor, Republican Bruce Rauner …”

In These Times: Behind Janus: Documents Reveal Decade-Long Plot to Kill Public-Sector Unions

    “The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation (NRTWLDF) supplied attorneys for most of these cases and is the lead attorney in Janus. Founded in 1968 with a mission to ‘eliminate coercive union power,’ the foundation (along with its advocacy arm) is an SPN member with $14 million in annual revenue. NRTWLDF is funded by the usual suspects: Donors Trust and Donors Capital, the Bradley Foundation, and the anti-public-school Walton Foundation, run by Walmart’s founding family.

    “A long list of amicus curiae briefs from a variety of think tanks may make it seem as if the Janus side has broad national support. In fact, 13 of 19 briefs filed by organizations (rather than governments or individuals) for the plaintiff come from current or former members of SPN. Seventeen were filed by groups that have received funding from Bradley, Donors Capital and Donors Trust.”

* IEA…

Today the U.S. Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments in the Janus vs. AFSCME case. The lawsuit aims to take away fair share fees for all public unions, including education employee unions like the Illinois Education Association (IEA), which means it will likely have a dramatic impact on public education.

“Nationally, about 70 percent of teachers belong to a union and here in Illinois that number is even higher. Nearly every preK-12 teacher in Illinois is in a union,” IEA President Kathi Griffin said. “The IEA alone has 135,000 members in Illinois. That’s why we have such outstanding schools. Our teachers and our education employees have a voice, and we are able to do what’s best for our students.”

Gov. Bruce Rauner originated this case in a lawsuit he filed against AFSCME Council 31 to try to weaken the union by banning fair share fees in state government. When the federal court said Rauner did not have standing to bring such a suit, he found a lone state employee-Mark Janus-to allow the legal challenge to proceed in his name. The suit is backed by the Liberty Justice Center (an arm of the Illinois Policy Institute) and the National Right to Work Foundation which is part of a network funded by corporate billionaires.

The Janus case is an attempt to take away the right of public unions to collect fair share fees from all employees and an attempt to take away the collective power of all public unions. Fair share fees are collected from all employees who join a workplace that is unionized. Those fees are used during the collective bargaining process to help fight for fair contracts that attract and retain quality employees. In the case of the IEA, those contracts also help improve learning conditions in schools by helping to keep class sizes low, implement new technology and training and by making sure schools are implementing practices to educate the whole child.

“The Janus case could affect our ability to fight for our students with our voices; our ability to negotiate fair contracts for teachers, support staff; our ability to take a look at what’s best for students, whether it’s classroom environments or curriculum decisions,” IEA member and teacher Unique Morris said. “It’s an attempt to break up unions and strip away the voice that we have that fights not just for students, but for parents and the communities that we service.”

* Pritzker campaign…

As the Supreme Court begins hearing oral arguments in Janus v. AFSCME today, JB Pritzker released the following statement:

“The future of the labor movement is under siege by Bruce Rauner and Donald Trump, and we must be relentless in the fight to protect unions and working families,” said JB Pritzker. “Our failed governor is going to extreme lengths to implement his far right-wing agenda to destroy our labor movement, and he’s partnered with none other than Donald Trump to make it a reality.

“In Janus v. AFSCME, the Supreme Court will hear radical arguments to undercut unions on a scale unlike anything we’ve seen before. While Trump and Rauner attack the freedom of working people to come together and fight for a better future, we must defend the hardworking men and women of the labor movement. As governor, I will fight alongside unions every day to raise wages, protect workers’ rights, and create jobs across Illinois.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   59 Comments      

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Monday, Feb 26, 2018

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* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Tonight's edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)
* Reader comments closed for the holiday weekend
* Sen. Connelly concedes
* Question of the day
* GOMB: State needs another $3+ billion a year to stay even
* Raoul announces transition committee
* *** UPDATED x1 *** The Democrats' vote-by-mail juggernaut
* Why the Firearms Restraining Order Act is so important
* Pension benefits are not cut in the abstract
* The way forward
* Yes, something can be done
* Monday's heroes
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