Bailey says new law to combat harassment in Springfield allows politicians to 'duck' responsibility
Republican state House candidate Darren Bailey wants lawmakers in Springfield to stand up and be seen and heard.
“This is just more bureaucracy and allowing certain politicians to duck what should be their responsibility,” Bailey told the SE Illinois News, referring to the new bill signed into law by Gov. Bruce Rauner that gives legislative watchdog groups the power to investigate sexual harassment complaints without having to get approval from the Legislative Ethics Commission.
“All we’re doing is hiring more of the same people from both sides of the aisle in plush positions, at taxpayer expense, where they really have no place,” he added. “We need to call a spade a spade, which means men and women in Springfield need to stand up and hold each other accountable by doing all of the job they were sent there to do.”
Rauner’s decision to ink the new legislation comes as lawmakers in Springfield are being dogged by a sexual harassment scandal that has ensnared at least four close associates of powerful House Speaker Mike Madigan (D-Chicago) in recent months.
Tim Mapes, Madigan’s longtime chief of staff, has been hit with allegations of harassment. Kevin Quinn, a key operative in Madigan's political empire, and Sen. Ira Silverstein were forced to relinquish at least part of their responsibilities after being accused of harassment.
Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie), Madigan’s No. 2 guy in Springfield, also faces similar allegations.
In announcing the new law, Rauner hailed it as “a victory for the heroic women who have stepped forward to take on the culture of fear, abuse and retaliation that permeates too much of state government.”
Bailey, who is running against Democrat Cynthia Given of Olney in the 109th House District, said he would simply like to see lawmakers take on more of the responsibility.
“That’s where the job of cleaning this up should begin,” he said. “The idea of a government watchdog group to solely deal with this is a complete joke. You can’t even trust some of the people in power to put a watchdog group in place to do [the] job they claim they want them to do.”
The new law also creates a four-person committee composed of former judges and prosecutors that will search for a full-time inspector general to replace Julie Porter, who was temporarily installed in the post roughly a year ago.
The measure also allows the inspector general to share information with a victim and other people who are involved in a complaint, unlike the policy that was in place when Porter took over.
The Legislative Ethics Commission is a panel of lawmakers appointed by House and Senate leaders from both parties.