Springfield, August 20, 2019 – In a report issued today, that began on allegations of sexual harassment and followed by allegations of political in-fighting among Democratic members of the Illinois House of Representatives, found that a culture of “Bullying” was more pronounced than the accusations of sexual harassment.
The Speaker’s office released the 202 page report produced by former federal prosecutor Maggie Hickey, who was retained to conduct an examination of events and a number of allegations made over a year ago, against leaders in the legislature and within the Speaker’s office.
Since those allegations first came to light, the then House Leader, Rep Lou Lang (D), resigned his leadership position, and subsequently has left the legislature. And Speaker Madigan’s long-time Chief of Staff, Tim Mapes, was forced out and replaced. Lou Lang denied the allegations made against him, and now works as a lobbyist, as does Tim Mapes in a more limited capacity.
The allegations of bullying in the report stem from Rep Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago) who spoke out against the handling of the allegations made over the years of sexual harassment. For years there was no one filling the position that was supposed to investigate such allegations.
FROM THE HICKEY REPORT
“Representative Kelly Cassidy’s Public Statements
In February 2018, Representative Cassidy made several public appearances, criticizing Speaker Madigan’s handling of sexual harassment allegations. For example,in a press release on February 20, 2018, Representative Cassidy called for an independent investigation into Speaker Madigan’s government and political operations regarding sexual harassment allegations: “The slow and steady drip of accusations and dismissals has turned into an endless cycle of lather, rinse, repeat, highlighting the culture of harassment in the legislature and political campaigns.”
On May 21, 2018, Representative Cassidy spoke to the press, alleging that Mr. Mapes, Speaker Madigan, and Representative Rita were retaliating against her because she called for an independent investigation. Specifically, Representative Cassidy alleged that Mr. Mapes called then-Chief Policy Officer Cara Smith a few days after the February 20, 2018 press release. When Ms. Smith told Representative Cassidy about that call, Representative Cassidy said it “felt like a warning, it was a little chilling.”
Later, Speaker Madigan declined a meeting with Representative
Cassidy. Representative Cassidy said she felt like she needed to come forward after she felt forced to resign her part-time job with the Sheriff’s Office. Specifically, Representative Cassidy said that Representative Rita made several comments about her opposition to a bill that Sheriff Dart supported, Senate Bill Specifically, Representative Cassidy said that, on May 15, 2018, Representative Rita told Ms. Smith something to the effect of, “when I worked for a politician, when I opposed him, I expect[ed] to be fired.”
The following day, Representative Rita told Representative Cassidy, “I really just can’t get over the fact that you’re opposed to your boss’s bill.”
Representative Cassidy told the press: “This is retribution, there is zero doubt in my mind . . . . This is about me having the gall to speak out.”
She added, “The message is very clear: speak out against the Speaker and people loyal to him will come after you.”
Representative Cassidy resigned from the Sheriff’s Office on May 17, 2018, to void putting Sheriff Dart “in the position of being dragged into this petty non sense.”61 Representative Cassidy did not consider Sheriff Dart to be part of the retaliation against her. Instead, Representative Cassidy said that, after Mr. Mapes’s call and Representative Rita’s comments, she wanted to take away the option that anyone could use her outside employment against her:
“What I realized is that those two events combined were very clear
to me that this was the point of leverage, this was the weapon they
had against me for having the audacity to speak out, and, um—so, I took the weapon away. I offered my resignation in an effort to allow the Sheriff to do the great work that he does.”
J. The Acting Legislative Inspector General’s Investigation
On May 22, 2018, the day after Representative Cassidy spoke to the media regarding her issues, Speaker Madigan requested that the Acting Legislative Inspector General Julie Porter investigate Representative Cassidy’s complaint.
STATEMENT FROM SHERRI GARRETT
One of the accusers who had come forward in 2018 with complaints against the Speaker’s Chief of Staff, was Sherri Garrett, who worked for the Speaker.
The following press release was issued on Tuesday, after the report was published.
” Sherri Garrett, long-time staffer in Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan’s office, who spoke out in in June 2018 about multiple instances of harassment and bullying, as well as improper handling of harassment claims by former Madigan Chief of Staff Tim Mapes, gave the following statement in response to the report on workplace culture in the Speaker’s Office released today, which prominently featured her story:
“Today has been difficult for me reliving the events that led me to make my harassment complaint and the ordeal of the complaint process. I am not a public person, but I felt I had no choice but to make my harassment complaint public if I wanted anything to change.
“I thank Ms. Hickey for her work in substantially confirming my allegations against Mr. Mapes and for providing concrete recommendations to Speaker Madigan on how to improve the culture in Springfield. I loved my job with the Illinois House of Representatives, and I was proud to serve the people of Illinois. I truly hope that the workplace culture changes so that people doing this important work are treated with the respect and dignity they deserve.
“I also want to thank State Representative Kelly Cassidy for her leadership, guidance and friendship during this process. Without her, I am not sure I could have come forward publicly. The people of Illinois owe her a debt a gratitude for the work she is doing on sexual harassment issues.”
RECOMMENDATIONS BY HICKEY
The report is extensive and includes recommendations Hickey says would work to protect workers from a culture where they feel intimidated. [see below].