Don’t Fall for the “Woke” Madigan and His “Independent” Candidates
I’m running for State Representative to change the culture in Springfield – a culture of harassment, abuse, and bullying that has festered under the 40-year leadership of Mike Madigan.
My opponent (Karina Villa) has received over $250,000 from Mike Madigan. Why is this important? Because she is lying when she claims to be an “independent voice”. She will obey Madigan and vote to maintain this culture that is toxic to women.
Kudos to Kristen McQueary, Chicago Tribune, for exposing the truth:
“Democratic House candidates accepting help from Madigan and his political operation… want to say they’re independent of him, but they wind up subservient to his control. No wonder he’s a shoo-in for speaker every term.”
“Actually valuing women, their policy contributions and their diversity, is not really the goal of the Madigan program. Putting up female candidates in the suburbs because they poll well and have increased Madigan’s voting majority – this is the Madigan program.”
I’m an independent, reform-minded candidate running to bring new leadership to Springfield. I will not be beholden to leadership, I will be beholden only to the residents of the 49th District.
This following commentary originally appeared in the Chicago Tribune:
Commentary: The new ‘woke’ Speaker Madigan
In an op-ed published last week in the Chicago Tribune, Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan apologizes for not doing enough to combat harassment and intimidation within his state and political offices.
The op-ed caps several months of repentant commentary from the speaker’s office on women’s issues.
Someone get the guy a pink hat.
Wrote Madigan: “What became clear is that I didn’t do enough and that we, collectively, have failed in the Capitol to ensure everyone can reliably, confidentially and safely report harassment. I thought the pathways were there, but they weren’t.”
The piece follows months of unusual statements from Madigan commenting on everything from one of Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s sexual harassment accusers, to the 25th anniversary of the swearing-in of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, to praising Women’s Equality Day.
This, from a politician who typically issues a press release maybe once every three months and first addressed sexual harassment claims within his office with a cut-it-out finger wag.
One of the first accusers to publicly allege sexual harassment in Madigan’s shop, Alaina Hampton, filed a federal lawsuit in March against a Madigan political committee and the Democratic Party of Illinois, which the speaker oversees.
Meanwhile, Madigan’s outside counsel, Maggie Hickey, a former federal prosecutor, is reviewing House operations to determine the protocol for reducing harassment claims; Madigan vowed in his op-ed to act accordingly when she completes her report.
Does he have reason to think Hickey’s report will be unflattering?
Let’s be clear on what Madigan and his Democratic Party enablers have tolerated.
Six people in his shop have been removed, including his chief of staff, Tim Mapes, and only under the force of public pressure. Those dismissals were collateral damage.
Anyone involved in Madigan’s inner circle knows intimidation is not limited to stand-alone incidents or a handful of party bosses.
It is intrinsic to his operation. It is his double helix. Politics and power.
While Madigan and his spokesman, Steve Brown, have insisted the speaker wasn’t aware of the pervasiveness of harassment and intimidation by his associates — and remember, these are primarily women coming forward — it’s difficult to believe he didn’t know.
Mapes, perhaps his closest confidante and internal disciplinarian, was known for his braggadocio. He may have insulated Madigan from direct involvement in the day-to-day fire-extinguishing of running a massive political operation. But he was Madigan’s gatekeeper, his workhorse, his conduit.
Personally, Mapes was and is acerbic — much of it good-natured — but also cutthroat. Rep. Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago, felt compelled to leave a part-time job with Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart after Mapes called Dart’s office and inquired about her employment status. The call from Mapes came around the same time Cassidy was openly criticizing Madigan for downplaying allegations of misconduct among his staff.
We’re supposed to believe the timing of Mapes’ call was simply coincidental? Sure. OK.
Hampton alleged she was pushed out of her job and the Democratic Party organization for speaking up about Kevin Quinn, a then-top Madigan aide who worked on campaigns. She produced text messages from Quinn calling her “smoking hot” and pressuring her to date him. The seriousness of her allegations were brushed aside for months until she was about to go public.
Other women came forward, including Sherri Garrett, who worked alongside Mapes in the House. She described a culture of intimidation and cover-up within the speaker’s office. Complaints of sexual harassment were largely ignored, she said, and in one case twisted against her when she tried to defend a colleague against a lawmaker. “Are you reporting the situation because you are upset the representative isn’t paying attention to you?” Mapes allegedly asked Garrett.
He also commented on her “pink bra,” she said, and warned other “girls” working in the dome who “leave little to the imagination” to wear more modest clothing during public events.
Bullying on the campaign trail was routine. A Madigan opponent in 2012 who had no political experience said her car door got smashed and her tires slashed during the campaign. She produced car repair receipts that totaled more than $300. The response from Madigan’s spokesman? She probably slashed her own tires to get attention. No investigation into the tactics. No inspector general to intervene. Only ridicule. Silly girl.
Lawmakers themselves privately have complained about Madigan and his crew for years. Shaw Decremer, now a lobbyist with a business built around his work for the speaker, got dismissed from Madigan’s ranks earlier this year after Rep. Deb Conroy, D-Villa Park, raised a serious allegation of inappropriate conduct involving him.
Even now, Democratic House candidates accepting help from Madigan and his political operation — its voter databases, staff, advice and money — have to give up control of their campaigns. His staffers can follow candidates through a phone app to make sure they’re going door-to-door. One House Democratic candidate told me Madigan’s aides wanted to observe her through a live feed while she was door-knocking, just to make sure she was on message. They also are not supposed to talk to the press or engage with the public, aside from porch steps.
See? When those of us who write about campaigns obsessively report the amount of money Madigan gives candidates, we miss the full picture. They want to say they’re independent of him, but they wind up subservient to his control. No wonder he’s a shoo-in for speaker every term.
There certainly are stories about the Illinois Republican Party also being accused of aggressive control-freakery. But I haven’t heard nearly as many complaints from that side as I have during my 20 years of covering Madigan’s office.
So spare me the mea culpa, the “woke” moment, the grasping press releases. Democratic women running under Madigan’s political umbrella have become adept at looking the other way. Any other elected official and party leader would be long gone. Instead, Madigan continues to be re-elected as party chair and House speaker.
Actually valuing women, their policy contributions and their diversity, is not really the goal of the Madigan program. Putting up female candidates in the suburbs because they poll well and have increased Madigan’s voting majority — that is the Madigan program.
“I’M GOING TO SPRINGFIELD TO DEFEND OUR HOMES, REPRESENT THE PEOPLE’S INTERESTS AND STOP THE RAISING OF PROPERTY TAXES.”