By Hannah Meisel
* Just hit inboxes. This appears to be concurrent to Legislative IG Julie Porter’s ongoing investigation…
Former Federal Prosecutor and Executive Inspector General Maggie Hickey to Lead Independent Investigation of the Illinois House of Representatives
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – House Speaker Michael J. Madigan announced today that Maggie Hickey, a former federal prosecutor and former inspector general for the agencies under Gov. Bruce Rauner, will conduct a thorough and independent investigation and review of the operations of the Illinois House of Representatives, including all departments within the Office of the Speaker and the Office of the House Clerk.
“Ms. Hickey’s reputation for integrity is widely recognized, and her experience in conducting investigations, including instances of workplace harassment, will enable her to identify past failures and mistakes, and recommend reforms and new policies that will help create a better culture throughout the operations of the House of Representatives and the General Assembly,” said Madigan.
The Speaker and a group of female legislators in the House selected Hickey to lead the independent investigation after interviewing several candidates. Members representing various communities and constituencies were involved in the selection, including state Reps. Kelly Burke, Deb Conroy, Melissa Conyears-Ervin, Jehan Gordon-Booth, Lisa Hernandez, Camille Lilly, Theresa Mah and Ann Williams.
Hickey, a partner at Schiff Hardin, has extensive and unique experience in conducting criminal and civil investigations of units of government. Most recently she served as the executive inspector general for the Office of the Governor under Gov. Rauner. Prior to that she was the executive assistant U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois. She also served as chief of staff and chief legal counsel to Republican U.S. Senator Peter Fitzgerald, and served as investigate counsel for the Senate’s Committee on Government Affairs.
“The challenges we face in the Capitol are bigger than any one office, individual or policy,” Burke said. “That’s why a review of all House practices and offices – from the clerk’s office, to member’s offices and staff offices - is a necessary start to changing our culture. Maggie Hickey’s understanding of state government, her record of tenaciously fighting against workplace harassment, and her independence are the exact qualities we need. I thank the Speaker for moving so quickly to bring her on board and thank her for joining the effort to change the culture in our Capitol.”
“Changing the culture in Springfield is only achievable when we work together and take the appropriate action to study what has gone wrong in the past and what we must change to be better in the future,” Conyears-Ervin said. “Ms. Hickey brings a wealth of expertise, and her independent review of all House operations is a critical step toward a better tomorrow.”
“Women throughout our country, throughout our state and throughout our Capitol have stood up to demand a culture free of harassment and discrimination, and Ms. Hickey’s independent investigation is an acknowledgement of their call,” Conroy said. “Changing any culture requires serious, measured reflection. That’s exactly why Ms. Hickey’s work is so important, and why I am grateful for her efforts. I appreciate that the Speaker has agreed to an independent investigation and that he recognizes this step is necessary to move forward.”
“I am extremely impressed with Ms. Hickey’s background and experience,” Lilly said. “I hope all members will cooperate with Ms. Hickey as we undergo a full review and seek to eliminate all forms of harassment and discrimination in the House. I look forward to working with Ms. Hickey over the coming months.”
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* Hickey stepped down as Illinois’ Executive Inspector General in April. Hickey was also tapped to investigate the Chicago Public Schools’ alleged failure to protect students from sexual assault from school employees.
* Tina Sfondeles…
Madigan spokesman Steve Brown said Hickey will be paid $500 an hour to conduct the investigation. Brown said the funds will come from the Illinois House operations budget. Brown initially told the Sun-Times there was a cap of $50,000 but later said “the final version of the contract does not have a cap.”
Madigan is still reeling from the abrupt departure of Tim Mapes, clerk of the Illinois House, his chief of staff and the executive director of the Democratic Party of Illinois, amid a whistleblower’s accusations that Mapes made light of harassment allegations, amid other claims.
Mapes’ departure came just a week after Deputy Majority Leader Lou Lang stepped down from his leadership positions and his role in the Legislative Ethics Commission after a woman came forward with bullying and harassment allegations.
Madigan last month requested Special Legislative Inspector General Julie Porter investigate his office after State Rep. Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago, alleged retaliation.