Speaker Mike Madigan again Tuesday addressed the sexual harassment controversy swirling at the state capitol, making a bold new claim in an effort to end what many women have described as the "culture" in Springfield.
In a new statement, Madigan said he met with members, staff and lobbyists to discuss the issue and "felt it necessary to address some of the concerns they raised directly with the members of the House Democratic Caucus."
Madigan said he then sent a statement to the caucus Tuesday afternoon.
“It is clear from my discussions that staff view you as their superiors or supervisors, and with that you are in positions of power over them," the statement read. "This dynamic is ripe for potential harassment. I expect each of you to treat staff with respect.“
He also added, “If I become aware of any complaints against a member by staff, or another member, I will personally get involved to put an end to it.”
Alaina Hampton, who has accused an ex-Madigan aide of harassment, released her own statement in response Tuesday saying it “rings hollow.”
“Perhaps my telling my own story publicly, combined with the EEOC's notification of my right to sue last week, has caused the Speaker to have a revelation about his ethical and moral obligation to those who have been harassed and even assaulted in his own organization,” she said. “More likely, he’s being driven to action by the threat of losing his grip on power--not by any personal concern for the well being of the women in the House Democratic Caucus or the Democratic Party of Illinois.”
Hampton said she and “countless other victims and survivors” will be watching Madigan’s moves closely.
“We are hopeful that he will back up his words with meaningful and swift action,” her statement reads.
In late-October, more than 200 people signed a #MeToo letter calling for an end to a culture of sexual harassment in Springfield. Since then, Madigan has appointed new outside counsel to investigate complaints, as well as three women lawmakers to lead a statewide discussion.
His promise to “personally get involved to put an end to it” is a new tactic from the 75-year-old Speaker of the House.