Rauner Changes Tone as He Signs New Sexual Harassment Bills

With new revelations and investigations into allegations of sexual harassment seemingly popping up daily in both Springfield and Washington D.C., Governor Bruce Rauner’s responses to questions about his own staff has evolved in the last month.

In an October interview with NBC 5, Governor Rauner denied even knowing about accusations of sexual harassment against a member of his own inner circle.

“I’m not even sure what you’re referring to,” he said. “I don’t agree with that question whatsoever.”

Rauner signed a new bill regarding sexual harassment into law on Thursday, and had a different answer than the one he gave previously to questions about possible wrongdoing by his advisers.

“Any specific requests or questions you have about anything pending, that really needs to go to the inspector general,” he said. “I’m not authorized to comment on it.”

A new report by the governor’s own inspector general may have prompted the change in tone. That report, first revealed by Capitol Fax’s Rich Miller and available publicly on the state's website, shows that a complaint in the governor’s office this year was indeed founded, but full details of the case have not been made public.

State lawmakers quickly reacted after a public outcry over the state’s handling of sexual misconduct allegations, hiring Julie Porter as a new legislative inspector general.

Despite criticism of the procedures around her role, which state that she must refer wrongdoing to an eight-member commission to receive approval to proceed further, Porter says that she is comfortable with the parameters and procedures surrounding her job.

“What I would say to anyone thinking that this is a waste of time is that I wouldn’t have taken that on if I thought that,” she said.

Despite pushback he’s received for his handling of complaints, Rauner says that he believes his office handles misconduct allegations appropriately.

“Once there’s action or demonstrations (of wrongdoing), I believe we have good transparency with our inspector general,” he said. 

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