Chicago Tribune (Sunday)

Madigan’s #MeToo messes and the silence of the Dems


In September 2018, House Speaker Michael Madigan wrote a commentary published in the Chicago Tribune admitting he “didn’t do enough” to combat a culture of sexual harassment at the Capitol. “I have made it a personal mission to take this issue head-on and correct past mistakes,” he wrote in a piece we published Sept. 19, 2018. “I wish I would have done so sooner.”

Around the same time Madigan wrote the commentary, his friend and confidant, former ComEd lobbyist Michael McClain, was arranging confidenti­al payments to help Kevin Quinn, a former Madigan aide who was unemployed and going through a divorce. Quinn had been fired seven months earlier for sexually harassing a campaign aide, calling her “smoking hot!” and urging her to go out with him. During a five-month stretch, the Madigan employee, Alaina Hampton, received more than 70 texts from Quinn.

So while Madigan was writing his public mea culpa, his friends were helping Quinn, the harasser, with under-the-table payments. Interestin­g.

Madigan’s spokesman said the speaker was “not a part of ” the effort to help Quinn. But if voters needed more evidence of the lack of seriousnes­s toward sexual harassment claims in Springfiel­d, the secret helping hands for Quinn, at the same time Madigan was seeking forgivenes­s, should be illuminati­ng.

The Tribune’s Ray Long and Jason Meisner first reported the curious payments to Quinn in July as part of the ongoing federal probe into ComEd’s lobbying activities. Newly obtained emails add context to the arrangemen­t.

“First of all, thank you for helping out Kevin Quinn for the next six months, maximum,” McClain wrote to a tightly knit group of insiders, all connected to Madigan. “It’s a wonderful sacrifice.”

They eventually supplied Quinn with more than $30,000 and, evidently, contract work. And they did it in a way that avoided public disclosure.

Meanwhile the target of Quinn’s texts, Hampton, said she suffered a major career setback due to the harassment and her reporting of it. She filed a federal lawsuit against Madigan’s campaign fund and the state Democratic Party last year. “I was forced to leave a job that I love, derailing my career path,” she said. “My reputation was sullied, and I lost out on key job opportunit­ies as word spread that I was persona non grata” with Team Madigan.

So the alleged harasser got help when he lost his job. The victim got frozen out from other jobs for reporting the alleged abuse. Also interestin­g.

Against this backdrop, Madigan won another term as chairman of the state Democratic Party from his peers. He remains speaker of the Illinois House. Few if any Democrats in the legislatur­e or in leadership positions throughout Illinois government have breathed a word of criticism.

So what happened to all the Democratic legislator­s, women and men, who marched and signed letters and wore black in support of sexual harassment victims?

Nationally, the Democratic Party has advanced the #MeToo movement and continuall­y bangs the drum for women’s empowermen­t.

Yet Madigan, the party’s Illinois chairman, enjoys a benefit of the doubt from elected Illinois Democrats — a silence few other politician­s have received.

The disclosure of these emails demonstrat­es, again, how good it is to be Michael Madigan. And how embarrassi­ng is this silence of the Dems.


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