Two of the state’s top Democrats said Monday they plan to take a wait-and-see approach after federal agents searched the properties of several people close to longtime Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, but neither the governor or state treasurer distanced themselves from the powerful Chicago Democrat.
The FBI raided a former employee of Madigan’s political operation and a longtime Springfield lobbyist in May. Media outlets reported the investigations could involve $10,000 in payments the lobbyist, Mike McClain, facilitated for the former operative, Kevin Quinn, in the aftermath of a sexual harassment retaliation complaint.
Alaina Hampton, a former Democratic party campaign staffer, said Quinn sexually harassed her during the 2016 campaign. Hampton also said she took her complaint to several people within the Democratic party’s operations, including Marty Quinn, who is Kevin Quinn’s brother and a Chicago Alderman. She said there was minimal followup.
Hampton said she informed Madigan in a personal letter. After that, she said she wasn’t allowed to take part in other political campaigns. Months later, she filed a discrimination lawsuit against the Speaker’s political operations. That case is ongoing.
The Illinois GOP said the House Speaker must “come clean” to what it called “the #MeToo cover-up of his political organization”.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker was asked about the federal searches at an event Monday in Chicago.
“I think we need to see this process play itself out,” Pritzker said. “It’s hard to tell. I know what you know, what I’ve read in the newspaper.”
“Allegations are just that, and so we’ll see,” Pritzker said. “I haven’t actually seen what those allegations might be. I think at this point there are a number of people that have been contacted … but it’s hard to tell what it’s really all about.”
Republicans hit back.
“Madigan hired a politically connected lawyer to ‘investigate’ sexual harassment when that lawyer’s own family members were funneling money to his top operative who had been fired for sexual harassment,” Illinois Republican Party Spokesman Joe Hackler said. “It’s clear Speaker Madigan does not take the mistreatment of women seriously, and he doesn’t intend to sincerely investigate and stop the #MeToo behavior in his political operation.”
Treasurer Michael Frerichs in Springfield on Monday said it was business as usual with Madigan’s office.
“I’m following the news just like anyone out there waiting to see what they discover,” Frerichs said. “[Madigan is] still the Speaker of the House. We work with other elected officials to accomplish our agenda and we’ll follow this case just like other people.”
Messages seeking comment from Madigan’s spokesman were not immediately returned.
Madigan is the longest-serving state legislative leader in the nation. He’s served as Speaker of the House since 1983 except between 1995 and 1997 when Republicans had control of the House. Madigan also serves as chairman of the Democratic Party of Illinois, a position that gives him control of the party’s purse strings. He works as an attorney for Madigan & Getzendanner, a property tax law in Chicago.