There is no partisan politics when it comes to sexual harassment, according to Reps. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton) and Scott Drury (D-Highwood).
The GOP and Democrat called for House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) to step down from his post during Tuesday’s House floor debate since the speaker waited to address sexual harassment text messages political aide Alaina Hampton received from former Madigan political worker Kevin Quinn.
“I want to address the elephant in the room,” Drury said Tuesday. “I am sure we all saw the horrible news yesterday of more sexual harassment allegations that have tainted this august body.”
He said since allegations that “roiled this House of Representatives back in September, back in October, and now again in February,” have gone on, something must be done immediately.
“The fact is we can no longer say ‘that is just Uncle Mike; that’s how he is,’” Drury said, adding “We need to wake up people and it is time to call on Speaker Madigan to step down as the speaker of the House because he is not worthy of that position.”
Ives echoed the Drury's sentiments.
“The fact (is) that everybody is just sitting here milling around, talking among each other when he is making a serious statement about a serious situation that is occurring in the Democrat House and you all are just walking around not paying attention.”
Ives said she often tells people to watch the sessions online or in person to observe the unacceptable behavior.
“Why don’t you come down and visit and watch for yourself the lack of attentiveness on the seriousness of issues,” Ives said. “As Rep. Drury is speaking very candidly about a significant issue, many of you women, who want to buy into the #MeToo movement, are just sitting around talking on your cellphones not paying attention, not recognizing that Speaker Madigan is one of the folks who didn’t even appoint a legislative inspector general for three years even though he knew there were 27 complaints sitting there waiting to be adjudicated.”
Drury said it is not enough to just say #MeToo or form a sexual harassment task force.
“Everybody on this side of the aisle knows that Speaker Madigan rules with an iron fist, and it’s his House and his rules,” Drury said. “But somehow when it comes to people being assaulted, harassed and abused, we turn our heads and we pretend that maybe he didn’t know it was going on.”
“I agree with Rep. Drury,” Ives said. “We have a problem in the state of Illinois. We have a problem with our culture. We have a problem with our leadership. We just allow this to continue.”
Drury said it is tarnishing the state of Illinois and if Madigan is not going to step down on his own, “I am going to give everybody a path to make it happen,” noting the House does not need 60 Democrats to stand up against Madigan.
“We just need to have eight Democrats brave enough to say we will not vote for any more legislation he puts up there until he steps down because he will then have 59 votes,” Drury said.
He personally called out Reps. Laura Fine (D-Glenview), Will Guzzardi (D-Chicago), Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago), Ann Williams (D-Chicago), Katie Stuart (D-Collinsville), Sam Yingling (D-Grayslake), Deb Conroy (D-Villa Park), Sue Scherer (D-Decatur), Mike Halpin (D-Rock Island) and Jonathan Carroll (D-Northbrook).
“You campaign every two years and say you are going to stand up and you are going to show your community you are not with the speaker and everything he wants,” Drury said, adding Madigan is the face of sexual harassment in the state. “Stand with me or stand together and disregard me all together, but stand together and make sure we take power back in this House.”
Ives agreed, saying to her peers that “just because you have a number of sexual harassment discrimination training on the schedule in four places in the next two months, until you switch out the leadership and change the culture, you are not going to solve anything.”
Following the House floor debate, Madigan held an impromptu press conference with Special Counsel Heather Wier Vaught in his defense of the delay in his response to the alleged harassment. Vaught answered all questions asked by reporters while Madigan sat silently by her side until he was asked about Drury’s comments.
“What I would say (is) Mr. Drury is continuing in his practice of supporting the (Gov. Bruce) Rauner agenda first with his votes in the House and then today, because the Rauner agenda is to remove me as the speaker because I am the strong force against the Rauner radical right agenda,” he said.
He said he will not step aside and then referred all questions back to Vaught.