A new poll commissioned by Sen. Mark Kirk’s campaign shows that a majority of Illinoisans think Rep. Tammy Duckworth should have to testify in an August trial related to a workplace retaliation lawsuit stemming from her time as Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs.
According to the GS Strategy Group poll of 600 likely Illinois voters, 63 percent of respondents said Duckworth should have to testify “because she was a state employee as the head of the VA, and Illinois voters deserve to know the truth behind her actions.” 17 percent of respondents said it’s Duckworth’s “right to not have to testify in this trial.”
“Illinois voters have long suffered from politicians going to trial- some for this exact Senate seat- and they deserve the truth," Kirk spokesman Kevin Artl said in a statement.
The Kirk campaign has repeatedly tried to tie Duckworth to the imprisoned former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who appointed her as Director of the IDVA. In 2008, Blagojevich attempted to sell the Senate seat currently occupied by Kirk when President Barack Obama vacated the seat after being elected president.
“Rod Blagojevich refused to take the stand in court,” Artl added. “Will Rep. Duckworth follow her former boss’s legal strategy?”
Poll results were, however, skewed along party lines. 57 percent of Democrats said Duckworth should testify, while 24 percent said she shouldn’t have to. On the other side, 77 percent of Republicans called for the congresswoman’s testimony, while 10 percent said she shouldn’t have to testify.
Additionally, 69 percent of independent voters said Duckworth should have to testify, while 11 percent said she should not. The poll yielded a margin of error of +/-4.
The 7-year-old lawsuit against Duckworth alleges ethics violations and workplace retaliation, although the congresswoman denies treating the employees unfairly.
According to the lawsuit, Christine Butler claims she was fired for insubordination after filing complaints against her boss, the facility's director. After later meeting with Duckworth, the termination was reversed within days.
Denise Goins claims that her complaints about the same supervisor led to an unfavorable performance review after initially being ignored. Goins claims the performance review prevented her from receiving a raise. In addition to this, she claims Duckworth told her to "do your job and keep your mouth shut" during a meeting.
Butler and Goins are seeking compensatory damages of at least $50,000, as well as other financial penalties.
"We're looking forward to this politically-motivated case reaching its conclusion after several years and multiple delays," Duckworth spokesman Matt McGrath said in a statement last month. "And when it's over Mark Kirk will still be a Trump-supporting Republican who lied about his military record at least 10 times while Tammy Duckworth is a 23-year veteran of the National Guard who was wounded in combat and has made serving veterans her life's work- with tangible accomplishments."
Duckworth’s trial is currently slated to take place August 15 and 16. She faces the incumbent Kirk in the November 8 general election. The race is widely considered to be one of the most highly contested in the nation.
The release of the polling numbers coincides with a new Kirk ad that urges Duckworth to testify in the trial and looks to further tie the congresswoman to the incarcerated former governor.
“War hero Tammy Duckworth put Rod Blagojevich and her political career in front of veterans’ care,” the ad says.
Duckworth's campaign did not immediately respond to Ward Room's request for comment on this story.