Taking aim at a “culture of fear” in Illinois, gubernatorial candidate Chris Kennedy announced plans Monday to combat workplace sexual harassment within political organizations statewide.
“Sexual harassment can occur in any workplace and almost any environment,” Kennedy said in an interview with NBC 5, “but it’s much worse on campaigns, particularly in Illinois.”
The announcement comes as Springfield continues to broil under the heat of sexual harassment allegations, including cases from as high up as in House Speaker Michael Madigan’s political operation.
Kennedy’s proposal is in part a response to the pledge released by Illinois County Chairs’ Association, which he said does not go for enough to address the “rampant” sexual harassment across state politics.
The plan presented by Kennedy is two-fold. First, lobbyists working as volunteers with political campaigns would be required to register with the campaigns they work for so that, in the event of misconduct, anyone can be “held accountable for their actions” as quickly as possible, according to a statement released by Kennedy’s campaign.
Second, the proposal calls for the creation of a bipartisan commission within the Illinois State Board of Elections to investigate claims of harassment from the campaign trail. Kennedy said the extra committee was necessary because the “the temporary nature of campaigns requires swift and immediate action that cannot be expediently fulfilled by filing a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights,” according to a statement.
“As soon as we start holding people liable and responsible, we’ll get changes,” Kennedy said. “That’s the theory in America, and it works.”