The week began with him announcing the firing of a top aide for “inappropriate conduct” with a political consultant and ended with an admission that he has not done enough to combat sexual harassment.
In a letter sent to legislators on Friday, state House Speaker Mike Madigan addressed the firing of Kevin Quinn and wrote that it’s time to “rethink the culture of politics.”
“We haven’t done enough. I take responsibility for that. I would never condone, sweep under the rug or refuse to take any step to ensure we did not eradicate any behavior of this kind,” Madigan wrote in the letter to Democratic caucus members, and state and political staffers.
“In order to change this culture and ensure quality in the workplace, we must provide a positive work environment free from any type of harassment, including sexual harassment and bullying. I recognize this at [sic] starts at the top, which means it starts with me and each of you,” Madigan wrote.
“I understand the ‘knock it off’ mentality is not enough, and we must, and will, do better moving forward,” Madigan wrote. “I commit to do more, and we must, and will, do better moving forward.”
In October, during an Illinois House committee about sexual harassment, the speaker acknowledged that any time a complaint was brought to him, he would turn it over to the ethics officer, who would take “appropriate action.”
“There were instances where complaints were filed with the ethics officer, people including legislators were called in and told ‘You better knock it off because we won’t tolerate it in the Office of the Speaker,” Madigan said at the time.
Since then, legislators passed two bills to address sexual harassment — and the scandal within Madigan’s own political organization became public.
The speaker’s letter comes a day after a lawyer accusedMadigan’s Southwest Side ward organization of trying to find “dirt” on political consultant Alaina Hampton, the womanwhose sexual harassment allegations led the powerful Democrat to fire a longtime aide who is the brother of the ward’s alderman.A spokesman for Madigan said they were “not involved” in any such action to disparage Hampton.
State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz penned a Facebook post on Friday in support of Hampton and women who come forward about abuse, writing that “slut shaming and trying to dig up dirt on the victim is the lowest move.”
But Feigenholtz, D-Chicago, said the speaker personally called her on Friday and denied involvement in that case. Hours later, Feigenholtz and hundreds of other legislators and staffers received the speaker’s letter, which also provided contact information for both state and political staffers to reach out to outside counsel. Besides the lawyers, Madigan also wrote that staff should also contact Special Legislative Inspector General Julie Porter to report any allegations or incidents.
‘The letter is a side of the speaker, a more personal, humble tone. He made a lot more personal references than I think he has ever done before, and I think that given the nature of what’s going on here, there was a lot of hemming and hawing about the elements of external counsel,” Feigenholtz said. “I think the bringing of outside counsel is a solid, substantive step, and I think he is being responsive here.”
Also on Friday, the estranged wife of Kevin Quinn, the political aide fired over Hampton’s allegations, told NBC5 political reporter Mary Ann Ahern that she faxed a letter to Madigan’s chief of staff Tim Mapes last August. She said she detailed alleged verbal and domestic abuse: “I reached out pleading for help, and they ignored me,” the woman said.
Mapes did not receive the letter, Madigan spokesman Steve Brown said.
“A review of possible locations whereletter might be sent does not locate it,” Brown said.
Hampton held a news conference on Tuesday outlining the pattern of alleged harassment by Kevin Quinn — a younger brother of Ald. Marty Quinn (13th) — who sent her barrages of unwanted text messages while she worked on Madigan’s campaign, she says.
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Kevin Quinn, 41, was arrestedThursdayat his Southwest Side home after he allegedly called and sent texts to his estranged wife on Feb. 10, in violation of an order of protection, according to Evergreen Park police.
Kevin Quinn’s attorney, Joshua Herman, said his client plans to contest the charges.
“Any attempted contact was solely in the interest and for the well-being of the children in an urgent situation,” Herman said.