PRITZKER TIP­TOES AROUND CRIT­I­CIZ­ING MADI­GAN OVER SPEED OF AIDE’S FIR­ING

Chicago Sun-Times - - FRONT PAGE - BY TINA SFONDELES Po­lit­i­cal Re­porter Email: ts­fonde­les@ sun­times. com Twit­ter: @ Ti­naS­fon

SPRING­FIELD — J. B. Pritzker on Wed­nes­day tip­toed around crit­i­ciz­ing Mike Madi­gan over the state Demo­cratic Party chair­man’s han­dling of a sex­ual ha­rass­ment com­plaint.

But un­der re­peated ques­tions from re­porters, the bil­lion­aire en­tre­pre­neur did ques­tion why it took three months for a Madi­gan po­lit­i­cal aide — and brother of an al­der­man — to be fired.

“It shouldn’t take that long,” Pritzker said.

Pritzker is in a pre­car­i­ous spot. His Demo­cratic cam­paign for gover­nor is backed by heavy- hit­ting state Democrats and unions, many al­lied with the pow­er­ful House speaker. But Pritzker has been care­ful not to sig­nal pub­lic sup­port for Madi­gan, given Madi­gan’s grow­ing un­pop­u­lar­ity with some vot­ers.

Madi­gan, too, is fac­ing a harsh spot­light. The South­west Side Demo­crat helped to pass leg­is­la­tion tar­get­ing sex­ual ha­rass­ment within state gov­ern­ment in early Novem­ber, nearly the same time he re­ceived a let­ter from a woman claim­ing she was sex­u­ally ha­rassed within Madi­gan’s own 13th Ward op­er­a­tion.

Madi­gan on Mon­day an­nounced the fir­ing of Kevin Quinn, the brother of 13th Ward Ald. Marty Quinn.

The fol­low­ing day, Alaina Hamp­ton stood be­fore cam­eras to tell her side of the story, de­tail­ing dozens of un­wanted text mes­sages.

A lawyer for Madi­gan con­ducted a three- month long in­ves­ti­ga­tion, which led to Kevin Quinn’s fir­ing. “It would take all of 20 min­utes to know that that was sex­ual ha­rass­ment,” Hamp­ton said.

After her Tues­day news con­fer­ence, Hamp­ton tweeted: “I ap­pre­ci­ate the out­pour­ing sup­port from nu­mer­ous elected of­fi­cials I have worked with and politi­cos I know in Chicago. Zero peo­ple as­so­ci­ated with the Speaker have reached out to sup­port me to­day.”

Hamp­ton helped to run state Rep. Ju­liana Strat­ton’s leg­isla­tive race in 2016. And Strat­ton is now Pritzker’s run­ning mate.

Fol­low­ing Gov. Bruce Rauner’s bud­get ad­dress on Wed­nes­day, Pritzker first sidestepped ques­tions about whether Madi­gan did enough to deal with sex­ual ha­rass­ment within his own or­ga­ni­za­tion. He urged every­one to stand up for Hamp­ton and for women who are the sub­ject of sex­ual ha­rass­ment.

He was asked re­peat­edly if Madi­gan did enough to pro­tect women by tak­ing so long to fire Kevin Quinn.

“Once again, I think that you have to have an in­ves­ti­ga­tion. It can’t be a sub­jec­tive one. It has to be an in­de­pen­dent one, and I think the in­for­ma­tion that comes out of that will tell the story,” Pritzker said.

But asked whether the speaker fol­lowed that phi­los­o­phy in Hamp­ton’s case, Pritzker sig­naled some dis­ap­proval.

“So far, what I know is that there were re­ports that were made and not enough was done early enough. That’s what I know,” Pritzker said.

Other Demo­cratic can­di­dates were more se­vere in their cri­tique of the speaker. State Rep. Scott Drury, who is fight­ing a le­gal chal­lenge to be on the Demo­cratic bal­lot for at­tor­ney gen­eral, con­tin­ues to call for Madi­gan to step down.

And Demo­cratic gu­ber­na­to­rial hope­ful Chris Kennedy on Tues­day said Madi­gan should tem­po­rar­ily step down as chair­man of the Illi­nois Demo­cratic Party.

Madi­gan spokesman Steve Brown on Wed­nes­day said Kennedy’s crit­i­cism “seems to be his the­ory of how to win the nom­i­na­tion.” The speaker in a me­dia avail­abil­ity on Tues­day claimed Drury is just do­ing Rauner’s bid­ding — a claim he staunchly de­nies.

“It’s funny that he didn’t come into the cau­cus when he was in the Dome yes­ter­day,” Brown said of Drury. “He was speak­ing to the me­dia in­stead.”

ASH­LEE REZIN/ SUN- TIMES

Alaina Hamp­ton on Tues­day details dozens of un­wanted text mes­sages from an aide of Speaker Mike Madi­gan. The aide has been fired.

Mike Madi­gan

J. B. Pritzker

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