State lawmakers called for criminal probes and legislative hearings Wednesday following publication of an email written by a top ally to House Speaker Michael Madigan that praised a state worker who “kept his mouth shut” about a downstate rape. […]
Meanwhile, House Minority Leader Jim Durkin sent a letter to the speaker Wednesday seeking special legislative hearings that could compel McClain and the former Quinn officials to testify about the case. […]
Other lawmakers and advocates for survivors of sexual abuse joined the senators’ condemnation and called for the Champaign County State’s Attorney Julia Rietz and the U.S. Attorney’s Office to investigate. […]
Contacted Tuesday, Rietz said she has not opened a probe into the matter.
“I do not know anything about those emails,” Rietz said in a statement. “I have not received any calls about these emails or any of the people named in them.”
So, somebody has to call her before she becomes interested in an alleged rape in her county that might possibly have been covered up by some of the most powerful people in her state?
Rietz said she could still request that a grand jury be convened if there was another reason, such as locking in a witness’ testimony under oath in a case under investigation.
* Well, maybe it’s back to Leader Durkin’s idea. From his letter to Speaker Madigan…
A recent investigative report from WBEZ alleges a disturbing criminal cover-up and shocking illegal activity by a State-registered lobbyist and several State of Illinois employees, either currently or previously employed by the State. The lobbyist was practicing under the Lobbyist Registration Act statute at the time of the alleged activity and the State employees were senior-level officials in a previous administration. The Illinois House of Representatives has an inherent responsibility to perform an independent inquiry into a matter of this nature.
It is a relatively routine practice for standing or special committees of the Illinois House to be convened to dig deep into allegations of misconduct related to State governance, so I respectfully request the State Government Administration Committee (“Committee”) be immediately convened to investigate the allegations from the WBEZ report. In addition to full subpoena authority that requires the testimony from the individuals below and any others deemed necessary, the testimony of the individuals called before the Committee must be under oath. At a minimum, the following individuals must be compelled to provide testimony before the Committee:
• Michael McClain
• Forrest Ashby
• Jerry Stermer
• Gary Hannig
• Lorrie Rickman-Jones
The seriousness of the allegations requires a thorough, comprehensive investigation by the Committee. Our Illinois constituents deserve it. Please advise me of your intentions to this request.
…Adding… Rep. Deb Conroy (D-Elmhurst)…
These are serious criminal offenses that need to be investigated and prosecuted to the full extent of the law. That should be done by the states attorneys office. The comments by the Champaign County States Attorney are troubling at best. I believe Attorney General Kwame Raoul needs to take the lead. This is not a political or a partisan issue these are egregious criminal offenses.
…Adding… This was sent last night and I missed it…
Outraged by allegations brought forth by a recent WBEZ story about the possible cover up of a rape detailed in a state government email exchange, Senate Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford urged that appropriate authorities, including the Champaign County State’s Attorney, the Illinois State Police, and the Illinois Executive Inspector General, take immediate steps to investigate this report.
The WBEZ story referenced a 2012 email to officials in then-Gov. Pat Quinn’s administration sent by lobbyist Michael McClain that among other things makes mention of a state employee who kept quiet about “the rape in Champaign”, asking that the administration keep that individual employed by the state.
Majority Leader Lightford issued the following statement regarding this incident:
“As a woman, a mother and a survivor of sexual assault I am sickened by the idea that anyone would infer that covering up rape should ever be interpreted as a form of loyalty. This is the type of behavior that keeps women and sexual assault survivors living in fear, and it can never be tolerated. Based on the revelations in this email, I know there is someone out there reliving their nightmare and awaiting justice for their assault. I want them to know they do not to be afraid any longer and I offer them my full support, assistance and compassion.”
Lightford also called on anyone with knowledge of this incident to contact the appropriate authorities, including:
If you have information please contact:
Champaign County State’s Attorney, 217-384-3733
Illinois State Police, 217-786-7107
Illinois Executive Inspector General, 217-558-5600 or 312-814-5600
Should Sims be elected Senate President, would he subpoena Jerry Stermer, Gary Hannig, Forrest Ashby to testify in Senate hearings? He said, “I don’t think the Senate should be impeding last enforcement role of getting to the truth.”
…Adding… Revised release from Majority Leader Lightford in wake of the news about Champaign County…
Any allegations involving the cover-up of sexual assault should be taken seriously and addressed without hesitation by those charged with investigating these matters, which is why I have urged the appropriate authorities, including the Illinois State Police, Illinois Executive Inspector General and the Champaign County States Attorney, to take the immediate steps and launch an investigation. And, given today’s news reports, I would like to once again ask Champaign County States Attorney, Ms. Rietz, to open an inquiry. I think the content of the email demands it.
If I am given the privilege to serve as Senate President, and simply as a woman and survivor of sexual assault, I will monitor all of this very closely. And, I will also send a very clear message that the culture of toxic masculinity in our politics will not be tolerated under my watch in the Senate. And I will take action on that front whenever the situation requires it.
…Adding… Sen. Iris Martinez (D-Chicago)…
WBEZ reported that Mike McClain, who is directly and intricately tied to Illinois Democratic Party Chairman Mike Madigan, in a 2012 email, urged the administration of then-governor Quinn to grant leniency for a state worker in a disciplinary case by arguing that the state worker had kept quiet about “the rape in Champaign.” The shocking email provides additional evidence that the Madigan organization relies on people who cover up sexual misconduct. The culture of the Madigan operation is directly on Mike Madigan. For decades, Mike McLain was the ultimate insider to and for Mike Madigan.
Eight weeks ago, when news reports revealed that Madigan operatives paid off a sexual harasser, I called on Madigan to explain or resign as Chairman of the Illinois Democratic Party. Pay-offs and cover-ups are bad enough, but actively encouraging this behavior by rewarding the perpetrators is much worse.
I am renewing my demand for answers and genuine accountability from Mike Madigan, Chairman of the Illinois Democratic Party and Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives.
Women of the General Assembly, the Illinois Democratic Party, and the citizens of the State of Illinois need to take a stand against this culture and behavior. We deserve a full investigation and accountability.
…Adding… Rep. Terra Costa Howard…
I am sickened by the recent WBEZ report that a prominent lobbyist sent an email to high-ranking state officials, in which a rape was used as a political bargaining chip. I have spent my entire career as an attorney standing up for vulnerable people, and it makes my blood boil to think that a violent crime was covered up in the interests of “business as usual.” I know that my constituents join me in demanding a full investigation of this email and the appalling allegations it contained.
Senator Don Harmon on the McClain email: “First, anyone with knowledge of the alleged events should share that information with law enforcement immediately. Anyone who committed such a heinous crime should be prosecuted and jailed. 1/3
Lightford also said she would issue subpoenas to compel testimony in Senate hearings, but only after criminal probe: “Should any such investigation not provide answers, we may have to use the full extent of our own legislative powers within the Senate to look into this.”
States Attorney Reitz isn’t the only “odd duck” in terms of Champaign County elected officials.
Treasurer Laurel Prussing resigned a few days ago claiming she is “tired and needs a vacation” after one year on the job (not kidding, those are her exact words). Tax bills were months late, County accounts haven’t been reconciled in a year and a third party accounting firm has been called in to help clean up the mess. She leaves the office an unmitigated disaster.
The County Clerk is the former convicted heroin dealer husband of Rep. Carol Aamons. He would have heretofore been ineligible to even serve in this capacity except for the two hours before leaving office sleight of hand arranged by Aamons and Prussing with Gov. Quinn’s office to pardon him without any paperwork, hearings et. al. Thank goodness he is now counting the votes.
The new Sheriff in Champaign County is a former Mall Cop who openly admits he doesn’t know much about the office.
If this hearing happens..don’t you think we will just get a bunch of
“on the advise of counsel” I can’t answer that question? and also, in the wake of all these investigations, do you really think the U S Attorney would let the this happen
Even if the State Government Committee were to undertake an investigation and to issue subpoenas - not a tool any General Assembly committee has employed in a long, long time - presumably the witnesses would cite the 5th Amendment and nothing more would be learned about the matter.
Likely, if there is anything more to be discovered, it will need to come as a result of federal processes.
Certainly, Durkin knows this. It’s a political move on his part. Were the situations reversed, the Democrats would do the same.
Sad that this SA can’t even pretend to care. It might be a job for the AG’s Public Integrity Bureau, and their page says they take referrals both from SAs and law enforcement, so maybe it’ll happen. Meanwhile, Leader Durkin’s idea appeals to me for its potential as a public repudiation of misplaced loyalties, codes of silence and impunity.
I have big feelings about all this, and it sounds like Rietz is a hot mess. But I’m not sure she’s wrong on the merits on this one. I don’t think state’s attorneys can just start investigations based on nothing more than a news report of an email from someone who wasn’t even in Champaign County. I think it makes more sense for the State to conduct an investigation.
And in the name of all that’s holy, could somebody (McKinney, Gov’s office, Google) please release the responses to that email? Or if there was no response, please let us know — because that would tell us a lot, too.
But it’s not just a news report, it’s a public record that references Champaign County. I think its worth asking the 5 people referenced some questions. Even if “the State” conducts the investigation, it’s the county prosecutor that’ll have to try it.
If the Champaign County SA is unwilling to do anything (which is bizarre and inexcusable) then detectives from the Champaign PD should at least pick up the phone and call the cast of characters (or their attorneys) and ask some cursory questions. There might be a semi-rational explanation that doesn’t involve the commission of a rape that wasn’t investigated or prosecuted.
The executive inspector general should immediately open an investigation into the ghost pay rolling allegation.
If you think Mike McClain is gonna sit down at a witness table at state capitol hearing and answer questions on this, you spent too much time in line at a cannabis shop on New Year’s Day.
And, wow, you have to wonder what other emails might emanate from the mighty mike mcclain … his emails to the Pritzker Campaign urging them to hire Forrest Ashby? His emails to Ashby informing him that he has been successful negotiating his new campaign job?
=Holy shlamoley, how is she still state’s attorney after that “token person of color” comment? Well, hazarding a guess, Republicans probably flocked to her.=
No. Very much to the contrary. She is a Democrat, self identifies as such in the video, and the D’s own this and the entire lot of generally extraordinarily, shockingly weak County wide elected officials.
Republicans most certainly aren’t flocking to any of the current cast of characters in Champaign County.
- Todd Stroger Was A Victim - Thursday, Jan 9, 20 @ 11:30 am:
So you are the state’s attorney and you wake up one day and hear about a political scandal that references a rape in your county. You check your files for police reports and there is no reference to a rape.
Should she call Mike McClain?
Should she call Jerry Stermer or Gary Hannig?
Should she call the police departments in Campaign, Urbana, Rantoul and other cities in Champaign to order an investigation of reference to a rape that appeared in a political insider’s email?
Perhaps the Pritzker administration should initiate a state police investigation. If there is information that a crime occurred, it would be referred to the Champaign County State’s attorney.
It does not seem appropriate to pile on to Julia Reitz.
Andy, calling it a public record is a bit much. I mean, my old state emails would be “Public Records” saying basically, “I have to get this finished. You guys go ahead and go to lunch, and I’ll try to catch up later.”
At this point, we have no idea whether any of it was real. There’s no victim making a complaint. It all could have been rumors piled on rumors (although I doubt it.) But I don’t see how this is the Champaign SA’s problem at this point.
Seems like the best option would be for the GA to issue subpoenas. And, as someone has already said, if everybody takes the 5th there probably won’t be much of an outcome.
—Based on the limited information so far available on this, I don’t see a federal crime that would permit the US Attorney to intervene—
The allegation of ghost patrolling could be a federal offense but for the US Attorney where the alleged crimes took place. Still, the DOJ doesn’t have authority to order a state legislative body to do or not do anything.
=== 2020 will be the most pivotal year in Illinois political history.===
… and yet we have no idea what that even means. Ugh.
The reality is the United State’s Attorney will be the one driving all these inquiries.
The mental exercises to make political hay of things that will play themselves out in actual investigations is tiring.
All I need to know is that Allen Skillicorn and Grant Wehrli are calling on resignations. It’s about the politics.
These emails and what is being written, in a shorthand way to the recipients are seedy and ugly and deciding to insert political maneuvering under the guise “of finding the truth” is disingenuous.
If in investigating, be it the press or the USA, we find out all the backstories here, that will be most honest.
Ask yourself, are you more concerned about McClain’s emails due to the covering up and the damage to justice, or are you more driven in connecting dots to the politics and these emails are the means to that?
I understand that there is not presently a grand jury. Can the State’s Attorney ask that one be formed? As to taking the 5th, the SA just has to grant immunity to one of the individuals and they would be compelled to testify I think or be held in contempt. I’m not sure what the crime that McClain has committed but if there’s one within this email, it may have gone past the statute of limitations.
During my tenure with Champaign I always felt as though the local GOP didn’t bother to run anyone against her because, like Mayor Feinen, she fools the Democrats into thinking she’s one of them while pretty much kowtowing to the white conservatives.
In response to OW, my comment is more in reference to the changes that will occur. The long serving Senate Pres will not be in the GA by the end of 2020 and I suspect the Speaker will not either. The reasons why, I don’t propose to comment on, but I believe it to be true.
With this as the backdrop for the election, the fair tax, the DNC up the road, etc., quite a pivotal year.
Let it go. Nothing is happening to Madigan. A few calls will get made, the media will stop reporting, it will disappear. The only surprise is the self righteous indignation of the media who know they stop reporting these types of stories when People like Madigan tell them to.
===“What’s not as easily quantifiable is what it might cost in other aspects like time in court for public defenders.”===
Champaign County can’t afford justice?
Look, I get it, if this was Crawford County, a better case could be made about whether or not a grand jury was necessary. But this is Champaign County. For the cost of some lunch money, they could have one of their ASAs presenting evidence to grand jurors. That doesn’t mean there would be more cases, it only means there’d be more investigating.
It’s a stupid place to save money in a county that has both the population and the resources to empanel grand juries.
To the strangely off-topic comments by @Say What? (please skip if you don’t care at all about Champaign County politics):
Champaign County Republicans are still bitter that Dems swept all of the countywide offices up in 2018, which also included a special election for County Auditor and the first election for the newly created County Executive. This was kind of shocking because at the time the ONLY countywide democrat was Julia Rietz. So, yes, most of the newly elected dems can be called “inexperienced” because the county has been run by mostly Republicans for years. Some of the new Dems are really good fits for their jobs (County Auditor is now an actual CPA, Clerk actually helpful to getting more people to vote, Sheriff was not a “mall cop” but was a deputy Sheriff and college law enforcement instructor), Laurel perhaps not so much. (Also, interestingly, Champaign County elected TWO married gay men - Sheriff and Auditor).
As to SA Rietz, she first won in 2004, beating a Republican opponent, largely because the local Republican party and its media sponsor, the News-Gazette, abandoned the GOP incumbent for a variety of confusing small town-type beefs. Ever since, SA Rietz has won very handily (60% plus) even when the county leaned Republican by keeping a lot of GOP voters and being good with local conservative business owners. Her husband is former law enforcement so she is also very law enforcement friendly.
Dems continue to vote for her because, with only one nominal exception, she has not had a primary opponent and the thinking is likely, “hey, a middle of the road, law enforcement friendly Democrat, even one that will often appease establishment conservatives, is still better than an actual republican.”
And why no dem opponent? There is a large part of the local Dems that have wanted to see one but, historically, almost all local attorneys have been Republicans or conservative Democrats (yes, even the U of I law professors) and you need to be an attorney to run. That is changing, along with the demographics of Champaign County as a whole, so SA Rietz would be well-advised that her prior go-to strategy of taking Dem votes for granted while publicly appeasing local GOP is not a great long-term strategy. However, for 2020 she has no primary opponent or even GOP opponent as of yet, and by 2024 she will have served 20 years as SA so she might not care too much about long-term strategy.
TLDR; @Say What is wrong, SA Rietz is most assuredly an odd duck among local Champaign Democrats.
For those calling for the AG’s involvement, the law greatly restricts the empaneling of a statewide grand jury. The supreme court has to authorize it, the local state’s attorney has to consent, and the proceedings have to involve crimes committed over multiple counties. The law also limits the grand jury to investigating certain offenses like terrorism, drug trafficking, and child sex crimes.
Criminal law just isn’t something the Illinois Attorney General’s Office is constitutionally or statutorily designed to do. We should all know that by now.
While I’m sure it’s fun for you all who don’t understand how the role of police and prosecutors work, why don’t you focus on Illinois State Police? They have the authority to open an investigation on this right now.