Harassment allegations dog Illinois's most powerful politician
The #MeToo movement may not be making national headlines anymore, but in state legislatures across the country, there are plenty of cases that involve legislators and staff.
In Illinois, harassment allegations have touched the office of the state's most powerful politician. Speaker of the IL House Mike Madigan started a firestorm of questions when he fired his long time and politically connected chief of staff Kevin Quinn for sexually harrassing a female Democratic consultant, Alaina Hampton.
In text messages Hampton turned over to the Chicago Tribune, sent between September and December 2016, Quinn repeatedly asked Hampton to drinks, even after she asked him to stop. Quinn complimented Hampton's appearance, asked whether she had a boyfriend and asked why she did not find him attractive.
"I need you to stop. I have dedicated a lot of time to this election cycle and I will continue to do so, but I need to be able to do my work without you contacting me like this," Hampton wrote in October 2016, a month before Election Day. "I'm not interested. I just want to do my work."
A month later, Quinn asked Hampton out again, then asked whether she found him attractive.
Quinn is the brother of Marty Quinn, a Chicago alderman who represents the district in which Madigan lives and another senior member of Madigan's political circle. Hampton told Marty Quinn about his brother's behavior about a year ago, she said in a complaint filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on Monday.
Quinn had worked for Madigan for almost 20 years, Madigan said in a statement released by his office.
Hampton left Madigan's organization in April. In the filing with the EEOC, she said she believed she faced retaliation for refusing Quinn's advances. She sent a letter to Madigan's Chicago home in November, detailing the harassment.
Despite the letter, Madigan did not fire Quinn until Monday, after Hampton detailed her treatment and showed the text messages to a Chicago Tribune reporter. Madigan said Monday he had assigned his former chief counsel, Heather Wier Vaught, to investigate Hampton's claims after receiving Hampton's letter in November.
And it's taken this long to fire Quinn? That must have been some investigation.
And that's not the only question being asked about the case. Apparently, Madigan has sicced some of his henchmen on Hampton rather than do any dirty work himself:
Hampton's lawyer said the retaliation against his client continued into this week. On Thursday, the lawyer sent a cease-and-desist letter to a Madigan ally, and copies to Madigan's political organization and the state Democratic Party, accusing him of trying to find "dirt" on his client. The lawyer said the Madigan ally had contacted several of Hampton's male friends in search of compromising information.
The Madigan ally, Jack Hynes, denied the claims, as did a Madigan spokesman.
Separately, Quinn was arrested last week for violating a protective order involving his former wife, just days before Madigan fired him.
How very Clintonesque of him.
Madigan is referring all questions on the matter to an aide and his attorney - the one who took three months to read a bunch of harrassing text messages and determine that Quinn was guilty. But Madigan is only following a familiar script in Illinois politics: Keep your mouth shut and when that doesn't work, deny, deny, deny.