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Lawsuit seeks to reveal ‘full truth’ on sex harassment in Madigan organization

Alaina Hampton speaks at a press conference March. File Photo. | Erin Brown/Sun-Times

What did Mike Madigan know and when did he know it?

That’s what lawyers said Thursday they hope to learn through a federal lawsuit filed by a former campaign aide whose allegations of unwanted attention and harassment led the powerful House speaker to oust a longtime political operative.

Alaina Hampton’s suit, filed on Wednesday, outlines the accusations that she first leveled publicly last month against Kevin Quinn — a younger brother of Ald. Marty Quinn (13th). Hampton alleges Kevin Quinn sent her a barrage of text messages and called her repeatedly in pursuit of a romantic and sexual relationship.

And it seeks damages for alleged retaliation, claiming Hampton’s career suffered after she came forward with the allegations.

Madigan fired Kevin Quinn a day before Hampton went public on Feb. 13, a move Hampton quickly criticized as a way to cover up that no action had been taken for nearly a year.

“The purpose [of the lawsuit] was to reveal the full truth about what happened to Alaina,” Hampton’s attorney Shelly Kulwin said at a Loop news conference Thursday morning. “We think we know quite a bit but when you file a federal lawsuit you’re allowed to obtain text messages as discovery, emails, and what did the defendant know and when did they know it.”

Kulwin described the retaliation as Hampton “not allowed to work for the Democratic campaign,” she had initially asked to work on.

“The Madigan Defendants retaliated against Ms. Hampton for asserting her rights to be free from unlawful harassment and a sexually hostile work environment by, among other ways, failing to hire her to work as a political consultant for the 2018 campaign cycle,” the suit alleges.

Hampton told reporters she wanted to work on the 5th District state representative race, because she had worked on Rep. Juliana Stratton’s successful race in 2016.

“I was very passionate about that district because I spent so much time there and I wanted to make sure that there was a great replacement for Juliana,” Hampton said, adding she was told by Madigan’s attorney Heather Wier Vaught that Democrats would not be getting involved in the race, “and that is not true,” she said.

Shelly Kulwin, one of Alaina Hampton’s lawyers, speaks at a press conference Thursday, March 22, 2018 announcing a federal lawsuit against the Democratic Party and friends of Michael Madigan. | Erin Brown/Sun-Times
Shelly Kulwin, one of Alaina Hampton’s lawyers, speaks at a press conference Thursday, March 22, 2018 announcing a federal lawsuit against the Democratic Party and friends of Michael Madigan. | Erin Brown/Sun-Times

“The notion that she would suddenly not be someone that they wanted to work on that campaign immediately on the heels of her reporting misconduct seems to us in our view to be strong circumstantial evidence,” Kulwin said.

Hampton told reporters last month that she had mailed a letter about the allegations to Madigan in November. In the letter, she said Kevin Quinn began sending the “inappropriate text messages” in August 2016. Hampton met with Madigan’s attorney, Wier Vaught, on Nov. 15 and provided her with print outs of the text messages. She said she reached out to Ald. Quinn in mid-January about her desire to work for another campaign and instead received a phone call from Wier Vaught.

Madigan spokesman Steve Brown on Thursday denied that the Democratic Party or Madigan’s campaign organization retaliated against Hampton.

“The pleading is being reviewed by counsel. However, I can assure you that the Democratic Party of Illinois and the Friends of MJM have not retaliated against Ms. Hampton in any way,” Brown said in a statement.

Hampton told reporters she worked on Bridget Degnen’s successful campaign for Cook County commissioner, as well as Curtis Tarver’s run as state representative in the 25th District. Tarver won on Tuesday, but Hampton said she left his campaign in January.

“I wanted to make sure he was protected,” Hampton said.

And asked whether her consulting work for former congressional candidate Marie Newman had anything to do with any retaliation, Hampton’s attorney declined to comment.

Hampton worked as a consultant for Newman’s campaign in April through December. Newman was challenging U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski. Madigan was backing Lipinski and was a close ally of Lipinski’s father, William Lipinski, a former congressman who helped his son replace him in Congress when he decided to retire.

“I think that will be the subject of this lawsuit,” Kulwin said.

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