Madigan fires longtime aide after sexual harassment complaints

SHARE Madigan fires longtime aide after sexual harassment complaints

Special Counsel Heather Wier Vaught, right, with Speaker Michael Madigan and Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie, at an Illinois House committee hearing last year on a sexual harassment bill. File Photo . | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

She sent Mike Madigan a letter last year warning the House speaker that a top political aide — and brother of Madigan’s own hand-picked alderman — had made “unwanted advances.”

Repeated text messages asking the woman if she wanted to go out on a date or have drinks.

That letter, the speaker alleges, prompted the powerful Southwest Side Democrat to launch an investigation and announce the firing on Monday of Kevin Quinn, a younger brother of Ald. Marty Quinn (13th).

Madigan hailed the accuser as a “courageous woman.”

And now the woman, a political consultant, plans to hold a news conference in Chicago on Tuesday morning to tell her side of the story. A press release about the news conference calls the firing “pro-active but a cover up” — showing the woman is not pleased about how her allegations were treated.

The woman, identified as Alaina Hampton, told the Chicago Tribune she came forward “not once, but twice.” The Tribune notes the firing came a day after Hampton filmed an interview.

“I basically lost everything I worked for because some guy could not control himself,” Hampton said in the interview, while revealing repeated unwanted texts from Kevin Quinn. Hampton, too, said when she told Ald. Quinn about the allegations, he asked her whether she would want to be a precinct captain. Kevin Quinn’s behavior, she said, prompted her to leave the political organization.

Hampton — who now has her own political consulting firm — is currently a campaign manager for Bridget Degnen, a Cook County Commissioner candidate. In a statement, Degnen thanked Hampton for coming forward: “By demanding accountability, Ms. Hampton is sending a message that discrimination has no place in our culture.”

Hampton has also filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleging discrimination, a source confirmed.

After receiving Hampton’s letter to the speaker in November, Madigan’s attorney Heather Wier Vaught conducted an investigation, which included numerous interviews. Wier Vaught, according to a statement Madigan released Monday, “recently came to the conclusion that the individual engaged in inappropriate conduct.”

Wier Vaught said Kevin Quinn sent “about a dozen” text messages to the woman that were “personal in nature” beginning in August 2016. The woman worked for “various political committees,” but Wier Vaught would not detail which ones: “I can’t put any limitations as to what they are.”

“The contents of those were generally Mr. Quinn asking her if she would go on a date with him, or if she wanted to get drinks,” Wier Vaught said. “She made it clear that she was not interested in anything but a professional relationship.”

Wier Vaught said the woman was empowered by the national and local #metoo movement to come forward, and did so a year later in November 2017. That’s when Wier Vaught opened an investigation, reviewing the text messages and conducting interviews.

“As a result, long-time aide Kevin Quinn is no longer an employee of any of my political committees,” Madigan wrote, saying he had worked within his political offices for nearly 20 years.

“She was very brave to send a letter to the speaker advising him that there was inappropriate action going on within the political committee, and I think that’s directly related to what’s happening at the national and local level,” Wier Vaught said.

A recent arrest — and an order of protection sought by his estranged wife — also played a factor in Kevin Quinn’s dismissal.

Wier Vaught said a “culmination of the events” led to the decision to oust him.

The arrest happened on July 6, 2017, about 4 a.m after a 34-year-old woman reported to Chicago Police that she fell to the ground when Kevin Quinn grabbed her arm during an argument in the 10300 block of South California, police said. He was charged with a misdemeanor count of domestic battery.

A source told the Sun-Times the woman in the July incident was Kevin Quinn’s estranged wife.

That same day, a Cook County judge issued a protective order for the woman involved in the case, and Kevin Quinn was released from custody after posting a $200 cash bond, according to court records.

The charge against Kevin Quinn was amended Jan. 11 to a misdemeanor count of disorderly conduct, which he pleaded guilty to that day, court records show. As part of his plea agreement, Quinn was sentenced to probation and court supervision and ordered to pay $420 in fines and court fees.

Another protective order was issued for the woman that same day, court records show.

Kevin Quinn had worked for the state between mid-March 2016 until June 30, 2016, before working for the political side between July 2016 and Nov. 8, 2016. The text messages were sent during that time period, according to Madigan spokesman Steve Brown.

Kevin Quinn returned to his state work on Nov. 9, 2016, until July 31, 2017, and again moved to the political side on Aug. 1, 2017, until he was dismissed, Brown said.

Since September of 1999, Kevin Quinn received $513,379.40 in salary, insurance and other expenses, mostly from political funds controlled by Madigan, according to campaign finance records.

An open letter signed by more than 200 women in October shined light on sexual harassment in Illinois politics. And, in part, prompted legislators to appoint a legislative inspector general — a post that had been vacant since 2015. Lawmakers approved bills in November aimed at changing the way the state handles sexual harassment allegations, which also required mandatory sexual harassment awareness training.

While policies have changed for legislators and state employees, there are no requirements for political employees. Wier Vaught said there will be immediate changes to those working for Madigan’s political committees, including required training and helping to make sure people know how to come forward. Reports will also be investigated immediately, she said.

Madigan’s statement revealed that Kevin Quinn had recently pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct and that the decision to oust him was made by both Madigan and the alderman, his brother. It also notes Kevin Quinn had previously been a state employee, and he will also not return to that role.

Kevin Quinn was also implicated in a “Project Six” investigation last year, which accused Ald. Quinn of using $24,992 of his 2015 aldermanic expense allowance to purchase an “industrial multi-purpose vehicle” in violation of city rules that expressly forbid the “purchase of a motor vehicle.”

The original voucher, obtained by former City Council Inspector General Faisal Khan and included in his report, showed handwritten notes to that effect, stating “Prohibited by Municipal Code. Do not pay.”

But in 2015, sometime between April 19 and May 15, the initial rejection of Ald. Quinn’s voucher was reversed by the mayor’s office after a flurry of communications between the city and Madigan’s office — communications that included Kevin Quinn.

Khan’s investigation accused Ald. Quinn of using city equipment in a district that wasn’t confined to his ward and that both he and Madigan put their names on the equipment in what amounted to “political advertising.”

Kevin Quinn was listed as a “program specialist,” on the Illinois Comptroller’s website, making about $8,600 monthly for his state work.

Kevin Quinn could not be reached for comment on Monday.

Contributing:Tom Schuba, Fran Spielman

The Latest
Countless fans around the world swear James is the “GOAT,” and they aren’t wrong.
The person lunged at an officer while holding multiple knives during a confrontation in the 900 block of Colorado Avenue, police said.
The first winner for best spoken-word poetry album is Ivy’s ‘The Poet Who Sat by the Door.’
William Holmes, founder of an alternative studies program for at-risk youth, was hurt in a shooting Jan. 23 at a Des Moines school. Two students were killed.
Tyler Johnson will return Tuesday, Jarred Tinordi could return Friday and Alex Stalock and Jujhar Khaira are trending in the right direction. Jonathan Toews’ pattern of illnesses is becoming worrisome, however.