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We’re still waiting, Mr. Speaker

Monday, Aug 12, 2019

* My weekly syndicated newspaper column

When Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan announced in February 2018 that he had fired Kevin Quinn, the brother of Madigan’s alderman and political general, he said he’d done so because of Quinn’s “inappropriate conduct” with Alaina Hampton, whom he called a “courageous woman.”

Hampton had come forward with allegations of sexual harassment by Quinn and retaliation by Madigan’s organization.

But Madigan also said at the time that Quinn had failed to “exercise the political judgment I expect of those affiliated with my political organizations and the Office of the Speaker.”

In other words, Madigan was making it clear that loyalty goes well beyond merely showing up every day and working hard and meeting or exceeding goals. Loyalty, which is a trait prized most highly by Madigan, also means not doing anything that could get the boss into trouble or bring disrepute on the organization.

Quinn had worked for Madigan’s organization in one form or another for about 20 years. But he was abruptly tossed overboard without a life jacket. Or so we thought.

Several months later, starting in the fall of 2018 and continuing into the spring of 2019, a group of loyal Madigan capos wrote checks to Kevin Quinn totaling $10,000, according to a Chicago Tribune report published last month.

Madigan may have expressed public contrition in 2018, but I know for a fact (because I’ve argued this point with them) that some members of his organization have privately never forgiven Hampton for coming forward. She, in some minds, is the disloyal one for airing Madigan’s dirty laundry in public.

And, by extension, Kevin Quinn is the victim who needed their help. He had been publicly kicked out of the kingdom. He had no job and no prospects and was going through a very bitter divorce. So they stepped up with a little pin money for “their guy.” Maybe it was to help him pay child support, but his soon-to-be ex-wife claims he has shorted her on child support.

This behavior is not an isolated incident and is precisely the sort of environment which kept Madigan in hot water throughout 2018. Among other instances, some top Madigan dogs helped Madigan’s former chief of staff Tim Mapes find consulting work after he was dumped over a sexual harassment complaint.

I know most of the guys who wrote the checks to Quinn and like or at least respect some of them. I’m pretty sure that most of them believed they were trying to “help” one of their own. The same goes for the Mapes stuff.

But Madigan was absolutely right last year when he accused Quinn of not exercising proper political judgment. And he could’ve easily said the same thing about Mapes. I mean, the big boss is being besieged on all sides over sexual harassment issues and while this is all going on his top Springfield lieutenant allegedly says — on the House floor to a low-level House employee — “Are you going to sex training today?”

That’s disloyalty. Plain and simple. There’s just no other way to describe it.

And, in my mind, “helping” disloyal people is also a form of disloyalty.

Not to mention that this was done in a way that was almost sure to be discovered.

Forget about the federal investigation for a moment. I’m not sure why the feds are looking at the checks written to Kevin Quinn, as the Tribune report claimed. Maybe we’ll all find out one day, or maybe not. I doubt anyone could’ve predicted this happening.

But Quinn’s soon-to-be ex has, by all accounts, a fearsome divorce lawyer. I would bet money that lawyer went after Quinn’s bank accounts to determine how much he could afford to spend on child support. And voilà, a handy dandy paper trail emerged of $1,000 checks.


Then again, maybe they didn’t care about being discovered, which would be even worse. As I said, I really like and respect some of those guys, but they don’t call ‘em Madigoons for nothing.

Or, worst of all, Madigan knew about the “help” and either didn’t say anything or otherwise encouraged it. And if he did, then all his talk about loyalty was just that. Talk.

Time and time and time again, Speaker Madigan has sworn that he has seen the light and has promised to change the culture of his vast organization.

We’re still waiting.

* Related…

* Amid sexual harassment allegations in his organization, House Speaker Michael Madigan trumpets signing of anti-harassment law: Alaina Hampton, the former campaign worker who accused Quinn of harassment and has sued Madigan’s campaign fund and the state Democratic Party alleging she’s been “unjustly punished” for coming forward, said the new law is a sign of “progress when it comes to sexual misconduct in our state.” However, “until there is real justice for victims and meaningful accountability for bad actors, no one should be patting themselves on the back,” Hampton said in a statement.

* Pritzker signs anti-harasment bill: It limits the use of contract provisions intended to prevent an employee from reporting sexual harassment, such as non-disclosure agreements or arbitration clauses. Extends harassment protections to contract employees who do not now have it. Clarifies that it is illegal to discriminate against an employee if they are perceived to be part of a protected class (such as gender or sexual orientation) even if they are not. Allows victims of gender-related violence to take unpaid leave from work to get medical help, legal assistance, counseling and other help. Requires hotels and casinos to provide employees who work in isolated spaces with panic buttons to use if they are sexually harassed or assaulted.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Colin O'Scopy - Monday, Aug 12, 19 @ 9:21 am:

    I never thought Speaker Madigan would succumb to a “death by a thousand cuts”. But when the thousand cuts are administered by those closest to him, I am starting to re-think this.

    I believe that all of the wars he is battling, on myriad fronts, mark the beginning of the end of the Reign of Madigan.

  2. - lake county democrat - Monday, Aug 12, 19 @ 9:36 am:

    These comments by Lisa Madigan are interesting - you’d think Mike Madigan’s own daughter’s experiences might have sensitized him a little:

  3. - Anon E Moose - Monday, Aug 12, 19 @ 9:50 am:

    Waiting for what? What do you want the Speaker to do?

  4. - Over it - Monday, Aug 12, 19 @ 12:31 pm:

    What are you exactly waiting for?

    This talk is tiring

  5. - JP Altgeld - Monday, Aug 12, 19 @ 12:47 pm:

    Very well written.

  6. - read first - Monday, Aug 12, 19 @ 2:25 pm:

    ==And, in my mind, “helping” disloyal people is also a form of disloyalty.==

    This line is what’s wrong with the culture. You’re presuming Madigan and his web of people live like this - disloyalty breeds disloyalty - but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

  7. - Ron Burgundy - Monday, Aug 12, 19 @ 2:44 pm:

    It’s right in the column. Rich is waiting for the Speaker to actually change the culture of his organization. So far it is clearly all talk.

  8. - Responsa - Monday, Aug 12, 19 @ 3:30 pm:

    Him making sort-of apologies, feigning epiphanies, and promising change worked for a long time in a lot of situations. I think those days are gone. People have wised up.

  9. - Anon E Moose - Monday, Aug 12, 19 @ 4:08 pm:

    Oh just change the culture? Is that all? Any specifics?

  10. - Ron Burgundy - Monday, Aug 12, 19 @ 4:22 pm:

    Treating the accuser better than the accused would be a start.

  11. - Shytown - Monday, Aug 12, 19 @ 4:34 pm:

    Lets all be honest here. Is anyone surprised by this? Madigan takes care of his own. I mean, the gall. Rich has anyone in he media asked Madigan yet if he knew about the payments to K. Quinn? Time to get him on the record about that.

    Re the sexual harassment law, he’s basically taking the credit for something that had to be done because of the culture that was created under his watch and for issues that he and his people swept under the rug. Those are some big balz.

  12. - Over it - Monday, Aug 12, 19 @ 4:59 pm:

    Quinn lost his job.

    Was hired to for work by someone outside madigan me organization, and speculation will be pin this all on Madigan. Wow.

    Why so quick to believe this was Madigans doing?

    Is Quinn never to gain employment again? Not quite sure why this continues to be a topic of conversation.

  13. - waterboy - Tuesday, Aug 13, 19 @ 9:14 am:

    Shytown, you asked a great question. Has anybody asked the Speaker about this? I would refer you to this Chuck Gowdy gem from 2013. This is what happens when you try to talk to Speaker Madigan. Classic clip of his car fleeing a reporter and the tires spinning!

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