By Hannah Meisel
* Boy what a day. In case you are not plugged into this world, here are the basics: on Tuesday it was reported that a woman would come forward on Thursday to accuse a “leading lawmaker” of harassment. This morning the woman went on Dan Proft’s radio show only identifying herself as “M,” and then at a 1 p.m. press conference in the Capitol, she identified herself as a medical marijuana advocate named Maryann Loncar.
Loncar accused top Madigan ally Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie) of years of harassment. But when pressed by reporters during the press conference, Loncar revealed that the reason for the abuse was because she claims she was privy to knowledge of an alleged $170 million “bribe” offered to Lang and two other Democrats by someone in the medical marijuana industry. However, the person she heard this from disputes this claim, as Rich reported earlier.
Lang then held his own press conference, where he was flanked by female supporters — lawmakers and lobbyists — who spoke to Lang’s leadership and even mentorship of women.
Democratic Rep. Lou Lang of Skokie announced he was stepping down as House deputy majority leader in a statement released as advocate Maryann Loncar was taking questions from reporters at the Capitol.
Loncar accused Lang of years of verbal abuse after they initially worked together to pass the state’s 2013 law that legalized medical marijuana. Loncar said that several years ago, Lang made her uncomfortable by putting his hand on her lower back and asking if her husband knew how lucky he was.
Loncar said that on another occasion, Lang called her at night as she was out at dinner, saying he would have come to meet her if she were alone.
Lang’s announcement came less than 24 hours after he won approval of the federal Equal Rights Amendment, which seeks to guarantee that rights can’t be denied because of a person’s sex.
Loncar said she became “privy” to information she shouldn’t have when she witnessed Lang being offered a $170 million bribe, and that’s when Lang retaliated, with behavior such as telling her ex-husband: “I can help you bury her if you want.”
She says she never contacted police or other authorities in part out of distrust and fear of further retaliation, but that she came forward Thursday despite fearing for her life, hoping that other women will speak out against Lang and others in power. […]
Lang also denied any suggestion of a bribe.
“If I have $170 million somewhere, help me find it,” he said.
Loncar said her experience was similar to allegations brought forth by other people who have come forward, including state Rep. Kelly Cassidy, who alleged retaliation from House Speaker Michael Madigan after she spoke out questioning his office’s handling of harassment claims.
“It’s what everybody else is talking about,” Loncar said Thursday morning. “It’s Representative Cassidy and other people that stand up and say if you don’t conform and go along with everything they tell you, regardless of your own morals, your own mindset, you will be blackballed and that you will be treated unfairly and you will be harassed and you will be singled out. And no matter how many times you go through a video for 15 minutes and answer questions on sexual harassment, that’s not enough. That’s not enough.”
Loncar also claimed Lang killed a hemp farming bill she had been advocating for, a claim many organizations are disputing.
Jen Walling, executive director and lobbyist on behalf of the Illinois Environmental Council, said the initial hemp farming bill “wasn’t killed because of Lou Lang.”
“That is absolutely not true,” Walling said, adding that the measure failed because an agreement couldn’t be reached with the Medical Cannabis Association. A revamped Industrial Hemp Bill was sent to the governor on Wednesday after being passed by the state Senate.
Walling called Loncar a “citizen advocate,” who was not involved in negotiations or in any meetings regarding the initial hemp bill.
“I’m not belittling her other claims but I’m absolutely sure that Lou did not kill this bill,” Walling said.
Walling told Rich the same thing today.