* Center for Illinois Politics…
In October 2017, a group of politically involved women calling themselves Illinois Say No More authored an open letter alleging a culture of rampant sexual harassment and discrimination at the state Capitol. It spread like wildfire.
In it, they detailed the double standard permeating state politics , enduring inappropriate advances and the fear of being retaliated upon if they spoke up. And they demanded better, calling on elected officials to create lasting, systemic change.
A year and a half later, much of their rage hasn’t dissipated. Illinois has been slow to implement reform for those working both under and outside the Capitol dome, part of a worrying national trend in the #MeToo era, they say.
“Addressing the issue of sexual harassment is complicated but this delay is disheartening,” said Katelynd Duncan, Chicago-based fundraiser and political consultant, who co-authored the piece. “It feels like a slap in the face of women, of our cause and of female political operatives specifically. We want our elected leaders to show us we matter. Just as much as our male colleagues. That’s it. And that’s not happening.”
* Sen. Melinda Bush, you will recall, passed her own bill that took months to craft only to see it thrown into House talks about an omnibus proposal. She was super-angry about it last month, but she told me the other day that she was satisfied with the talks so far. She said pretty much the same to the Center for Illinois Politics…
Bush publicly confronted members of House leadership on the status of her bill - and even made a point of bending Madigan’s ear at his annual fundraiser at Springfield’s Yacht Club to attempt to get the bill moving again.
On May 7, Bush said, she spoke with Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s chief of staff called about the issue, who offered help and support. She said she also engaged in a two-hour meeting with members of the four legislative caucuses.
“We basically all agree on the concepts,” Bush said. “We’re all at the table negotiating and I’m hopeful. I’m really trying to get through this process with pressure and respect.”
*** UPDATE *** Breaking news…
The ongoing investigation into sexual harassment complaints in House Speaker Michael Madigan’s office could cost Illinois taxpayers up to $1.4 million — and it’s unclear whether the findings will ever be made public.
Under fire from members of his own House Democratic Caucus, Madigan announced last June he had hired the law firm Schiff Hardin to conduct an investigation into how complaints of bullying and harassment from his then-chief of staff and members of his political organizations were handled in the speaker’s office.
He selected former federal prosecutor Maggie Hickey to conduct the audit. Hickey, now a Schiff Hardin partner, had served as the executive inspector general under Madigan’s nemesis, Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner.
But nearly a year later, Hickey’s work continues. […]
Madigan’s noncommittal answer about releasing the final report troubled a former statehouse watchdog.
“There should be a way to make public the key findings and conclusions so that members of the public can collaborate with members of the General Assembly and find solutions to issues that have been really difficult for many years in Springfield and beyond,” former Legislative Inspector General Julie Porter said.