Ald. Quinn returns to City Hall, but mum on harassment mess surrounding Madigan

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Ald. Marty Quinn (13th) (front row, left) attends the City Council’s License Committee Wednesday to declare another precinct of his ward off-limits to new Airbnb registrations. He talked about that, but did not entertain questions about the sexual harassment scandal in the Madigan organization. Ald. Michele Smith (43rd) is seated in the front row next to Quinn. Behind him are (from left) Ald. Chris Taliaferro (29th) and License Committee Chairman Emma Mitts (37th). | Fran Spielman/Spielman

Ald. Marty Quinn (13th) showed his face at City Hall Wednesday for the first time since his brother was fired, but refused to answer questions about the sexual harassment scandal swirling around his ward committeeman and powerful political mentor, Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan.

With Curtis Franklin, the City Council’s burly assistant sergeant-at-arms as lead blocker, Quinn blew past reporters on his way into and out of a meeting of the City Council’s License Committee.

Quinn twice said, “good morning, everybody,” but otherwise remained silent and stared straight ahead as reporters asked him to comment about the sexual harassment allegations made against his brother and about the burgeoning scandal surrounding Madigan, the alderman’s political patron.

The alderman spoke during the hearing, but only to explain his proposal to declare yet another precinct of his Southwest Side ward off limits to new listings on Airbnb. Five other precincts are proceeding with the painstaking petition process, the alderman said.

Quinn has been under fire for the go-between role he played in the sex scandal surrounding Madigan’s vaunted and once impenetrable political organization.

Political consultant Alaina Hampton claims she told Ald. Marty Quinn, her political mentor, a year ago that the alderman’s brother, political aide Kevin Quinn, had stalked her with a series of harassing text messages. She called coming forward the “hardest thing I have ever done in my life.”

But Hampton accused Ald. Quinn of choosing to “protect Kevin instead of me,” giving her no choice but to leave Madigan’s political organization.

“You allowed people in the organization to believe that I betrayed you by quitting even though I told you I was scared to be at the office,” Hampton said last week.

“When I told you about your brother, I needed you to protect me. I didn’t feel safe. I knew telling you would risk everything I had worked for in my entire career, and I was right.”

So far, Ald. Quinn’s only response has been a prepared statement.

In it, Ald. Quinn maintained that, as soon as Hampton told him about the text messages, he immediately directed his brother to “stop all communication” with her and warned Kevin Quinn that, if he didn’t, he would be fired immediately.

Ald. Quinn said he took no further action — nor did he tell Madigan — because, “I was attempting to protect Ms. Hampton’s privacy and honor her wishes” that the allegations be kept quiet and that Kevin Quinn “not be further reprimanded.”

Since Hampton’s allegations, pressure has been mounting on Madigan to step down as chairman of the Illinois Democratic Party and agree to an independent investigation of the organizations under his iron-fisted control.

Those demands came after Madigan banned a second lieutenant, Shaw Decremer, from his organization, as a result of alleged “inappropriate behavior by a volunteer toward a candidate and staff” during a 2016 campaign.

Late last week, in an effort to control the damage, Madigan sent a letter to Democratic state lawmakers, state and political staffers that was personal in tone and uncharacteristically humble.

In that letter, the speaker acknowledged: “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.”

The following day, Madigan announced in a letter to Democratic committeemen that a group of three Illinois legislators, including U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, will lead a statewide discussion about the role of women in the Democratic Party and how to “change the culture of politics.”

In that letter, Madigan wrote, “I understand the ‘knock it off’ mentality is not enough, and we must, and will, do better moving forward. I commit to do more, and I welcome any and all suggestions you may want to bring forward. Our culture must change and I want to work together to make the necessary changes. We must do better. We will do better.”

Although Quinn is almost always a man of few words at City Hall, he plays a far more important role in Madigan’s political organization.

In fact, he’s a top-notch political operative known to colleagues as the “The General,” who masterminds pivotal legislative races in a way that has helped Madigan hang onto his Democratic majority in Springfield.

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