Just days after 10 former staffers for Democratic gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker filed a lawsuit alleging a cesspool of racism in the campaign, three more former staffers are speaking out about their complaints of racial discrimination and harassment.
On Friday, those three staffers, who are not named in the lawsuit filed in court this week, spoke to NBC 5 about how they brought up the concerns to Pritzker and his running mate Julianna Stratton.
Former staffers Kayla Hogan, Eric Chaney, and Kina Collins all worked on the Pritzker campaign during the primary. Collins says that she quit after audio tapes revealed Pritzker making controversial remarks to former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich about Secretary of State Jesse White.
Chaney and Hogan were both laid off after the primary.
“Believe people the first time when they tell you that abuse is happening,” Collins said. “Believe them the first time that they tell you they’re being mistreated.”
Both Pritzker and Stratton denied that any staffers complained to them about mistreatment during the campaign, and on Friday, the campaign released a statement about the allegations:
“Two of the three individuals have not been around the campaign since March 25th — the Campaign believes there was cause to end their employment. The other individual was not employed by the campaign in the time period referenced in the lawsuit. As of today, we still have not been served a lawsuit, which would give us an opportunity to file a motion to dismiss in the court. As the letter we sent to their lawyers today indicates, we will take defamation of our campaign staff and candidate very seriously. We are committed to advancing the cause of equality in the workplace and preventing workplace discrimination and will continue its advancement of those shared interests.”
The staffers who spoke to NBC 5 emphatically denied the candidates’ statements that they were unaware of the allegations.
“That is absolutely false,” Hogan said. “If that’s the case, that they’re saying nobody came to them asking for help relating to harassment, then I guess I’m nobody.”
The former staffers say that some of the issues they faced while working for the campaign aren’t just limited to the Pritzker campaign, and that campaigns in general take African-American workers for granted.
“We want leaders who are going to step up and take responsibility and answer the questions in a straight-forward manner,” Collins said.
“If people are going to vote for J.B., we want them to understand that this is real and that this happened,” Hogan added.