A nonpartisan panel of female lawmakers formed in the wake of sexual harassment allegations in Springfield released its first report Wednesday, with recommendations for campaigns and candidates to adopt as Illinois' political system continues to navigate the #MeToo era.
The Anti-Harassment, Equality and Access (AHEA) Panel sent its report to "Democratic, Green, Libertarian, and Republican party leaders at the state and county level as well as all statewide and state-level campaigns registered with the State Board of Elections," the organization said in a statement.
The AHEA Panel asked all campaigns to consider recommendations that included: adopting clear and non-negotiable policies that go beyond the law, providing anti-harassment training to everyone involved in campaigns, tying party funding and resources to campaigns' participation in training and adoption of policies, providing avenues for reporting potential misconduct, establishing an independent body to receive and investigate complaints, conducting fair investigations, prohibiting retaliation and providing support for harassment victims, prohibiting non-disclosure agreements and crafting policies for consensual romantic relationships and alcohol use.
Another major recommendation the panel had was to elect more women to office and promote more women into leadership roles in politics. As part of that goal, the panel advised party leaders to commit to a target of women filling 50 percent of seats in the General Assembly, and recommended investing more in training women and supporting their candidacies.
The panel also recommended hiring a director of diversity and requiring diversity in considering each political vacancy, as well as establishing an advisory board to oversee those changes.
Led by Comptroller Susana Mendoza, state Sen. Melinda Bush and state Rep. Carol Ammons, the AHEA panel was formed in February as longtime House Speaker Michael Madigan faced a growing controversy over allegations that he ignored the alleged sexual harassment of an employee before she went public with the allegations.
Those allegations are the subject of an ongoing lawsuit against Madigan and the Democratic Party of Illinois.
In preparing the report, the group hosted six listening sessions across the state in Illinois and posted a survey online that prompted hundreds of responses. You can read the full report here.