A northwest suburban state legislator on Wednesday resigned after an ex-girlfriend accused him of sharing nude photographs of her online to spark sexual conversations with men.
The quick resignation came at the urging of Republican leaders, including Gov. Bruce Rauner, who appointed Rep. Nick Sauer to a state board, but on Wednesday pointed a finger at state House Speaker Mike Madigan, arguing the Democratic leader “has created a culture of abuse.”
Sauer, who was appointed by Rauner to be an Illinois Tollway Authority Board director, is also a member of the Illinois House Sexual Discrimination and Harassment Task Force, making the allegations even more troubling.
Sauer, 35, is accused of posing as an ex-girlfriend in a fake Instagram account. He allegedly used the account to share nude photos of her and lure other men into graphic discussions, according to allegations first uncovered by Politico.
Sauer on Wednesday afternoon handed in a letter of resignation, saying he stepped down “as a result of the allegations by Kate Kelly, a former girlfriend.”
The victim filed a police report with Chicago Police, police confirmed, and a complaint with the Office of the Legislative Inspector General.
The 38-year-old woman initially called 311 on July 12 to report the allegations. The Near North Side woman said her ex-boyfriend created a fake Instagram account using her identification. The former boyfriend posted sexually explicit photos of her on the account, she said.
The woman said she sent the photos to the man over a two-year period. She didn’t name her ex-boyfriend in the brief report. The woman said she learned of the Instagram account after someone alerted her on social media.
The report doesn’t describe the photos, but says her former boyfriend asked her to “participate in the acts depicted.”
On July 20, a detective was assigned to investigate but doesn’t appear to have done any follow-up yet, a police source said.
The report is currently listed as a “sex offense-obscenity materials (consisting of lewd writing, pictures, pornographic materials, etc. – with a predominant appeal to prurient interest – not involving children.)”
The report is currently not listed under “non-consensual dissemination of private sexual images (e.g., Revenge Porn),” but the report could be re-assigned a classification when it is further investigated.
Gov. Pat Quinn in 2015 signed legislation making that classification a felony offense. Those convicted under the “revenge porn” law could get one to three years in prison with a fine of up to $25,000.
State Sen. Melinda Bush, D-Grayslake, and state Sen. Jil Tracy, R-Quincy, on Wednesday also urged Sauer to be kicked off the sexual harassment task force. Both the Illinois House and Senate task forces are expected to issue a report recommending sexual harassment legislation later this year.
The allegations that surfaced Wednesday morning prompted calls for Sauer’s resignation from both Rauner and Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin.
“The allegations that have come forth against Representative Nick Sauer are troubling,” Durkin said in a statement. “He will be resigning from office today. We should allow the proper authorities to conduct their investigations.”
Sauer did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Chicago Sun-Times.
Asked by reporters on Wednesday how the allegations against Sauer play into Rauner’s accusations of a pervasive culture of harassment created by Madigan, Rauner said, “there is no culture I’ve created.”
“Madigan in the Legislature has created a culture of abuse. People all around him had to resign because they’ve been caught. What’s clear is that Madigan has hidden accusations,” Rauner said. “He has pushed back against those who have come forward, and his lieutenants have threatened individuals. He’s created a culture of harassment and of hiding the harassment and that culture has to be brought out and exposed and those responsible should be removed from office.”
But pressed on whether there was “a bipartisan culture of harassment,” the governor pointed back at his Democratic nemesis.
“The Legislature clearly has been existing in a culture of harassment, and that culture is created by Mike Madigan.”
Asked for a response, Madigan’s Chief of Staff Jessica Basham said: “The Speaker remains committed and focused on creating a positive culture and safe workplace, free from harassment of any kind.”
Bush, a member of the anti-harassment panel that Madigan created, said “there’s only one person that’s responsible for this behavior if it’s true and if the allegations are true.
“And that is Nick Sauer.”
Bush, who helped craft the “revenge porn” legislation in 2015 said “you cannot share nude photos of someone without their permission.”
“I think we need to see what the investigation turns up. But I have to tell you — I’ve said it again and again — women don’t lie about these kinds of things,” Bush said. “If he is found guilty, I hope he goes to jail. This is beyond sexual harassment. This is criminal and if he’s found guilty, I hope he goes to jail.”
One of Madigan’s key lieutenants, Deputy Majority Leader Lou Lang, in May found himself stripped of his leadership post amid a woman’s claims that he repeatedly harassed, intimidated and retaliated against her — all allegations Lang dismissed as “absurdities.”
In February, Alaina Hampton, a former campaign consultant, outlined accusations against Madigan aide Kevin Quinn — a younger brother of Ald. Marty Quinn (13th) — claiming he sent her barrages of unwanted text messages and phone calls in pursuit of a romantic and sexual relationship. Hampton has since filed a federal lawsuit against the powerful Illinois House speaker’s political committee and the state Democratic party, over the “severe and persistent sexual harassment” that she suffered and says went ignored for nearly a year despite her complaints.
But this isn’t the first time a Republican lawmaker has been caught in a sexual misconduct storm during Rauner’s term.
Former state Rep. Ron Sandack resigned in 2016 amid an extortion scam involving “inappropriate online conversations.” And former state Rep. John Anthony was fired from a high-ranking, six-figure corrections job after inappropriately touching state employees at a Christmas party — including an instance caught on surveillance video in which he was pressing against a woman.
Julie B. Porter, the state’s acting legislative inspector general, told the Sun-Times she could not comment on “issues relating to investigations, including whether or not a matter has been presented to me or is open. Certainly, I am not at liberty to share copies of complaints — if they exist — because the law requires me to maintain them as confidential.”
Sauer, who grew up in Barrington, served on the board of School District 220 and then on the Lake County Board of Commissioners. Rauner appointed him to the tollway board in 2015. Sauer was elected to the General Assembly in 2016.