A day after an explosive report revealed years of bullying under the reign of Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan’s chief of staff, Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Wednesday dodged questions about whether he’s still confident in the speaker’s leadership.
* Dave Dahl…
Now that a report of a toxic workplace at the Capitol is out, Gov. JB Pritzker’s glad the culture of harassment, intimidation, and bullying is now known to all.
But, he says, it doesn’t end here.
“I think we need to hold everybody accountable, and that means we need to address the culture,” Pritzker said Wednesday in Chicago after a bill-signing ceremony. “The only way to do that — you can’t just do one-time training; you can’t just announce that this is a problem. You have to be persistent and consistent about addressing it. People need to be reminded, and new people are coming to Springfield all the time.”
“The culture of sexual harassment exists in Springfield on both sides of the aisle,” the rookie Democratic governor said Wednesday at an unrelated event in Chicago. “It has been pervasive for a long time. I think anybody that’s worked in Springfield has talked about it and knows about it. And it is a very positive thing that these things have come to light.”
The report from Maggie Hickey, a former federal prosecutor and state executive inspector general under Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, pointed the blame for many of the problems within the speaker’s office at his longtime chief of staff, Tim Mapes.
Mapes, who also was House clerk and executive director of the Madigan-led state Democratic Party, was ousted from his positions last summer after a staffer publicly accused him of fostering “a culture of sexism, harassment and bullying that creates an extremely difficult working environment.”
Pritzker says the report detailed “a special kind of harassment and intimidation from Tim Mapes.” But when asked if putting Mapes in positions of power reflects poorly on the speaker’s judgment, Pritzker answered it depended on what Madigan knew.
Pritzker on Wednesday refused multiple times to single out Madigan himself.
“The culture of sexual harassment exists in Springfield on both sides of the aisle,” Pritzker said. “I am counting on the speaker and the Senate president and the minority leader of the House and the minority leader of the Senate to carry out functions that will safeguard women, anybody that could be sexually harassed or attacked.”
Pritzker was asked again if Madigan had dropped the ball, presiding over a workplace culture where abuse was rampant.
“I think it’s clear on both sides of the aisle. I think everybody in Springfield, we’ve let this culture go on too long,” he said.
* Center Square…
[House Republican Leader Jim Durkin] said Republicans have had their share of problems, but said under his leadership, employees should feel safe to come forward with complaints. He said when there have been complaints, officials have acted swiftly.
“We didn’t need an extensive investigation for us to make decisions and to take action. We will continue to do that in those situations when you get into harassment of employees, but also conduct that’s unbecoming of members,” Durkin said.
Durkin said Madigan’s future depends on House Democrats.
“I’m not going to get involved with the House Democrats and how they manage their operations,” Durkin said. “I have nothing further to say on that.”