Woman says Illinois speaker Madigan didn’t act on complaints
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — A former campaign worker for Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan whose federal lawsuit claims her career was hindered when she complained about sexual harassment has alleged in court filings that “nothing was done in response” to other complaints against a Madigan staffer in 2015 and 2016.
The powerful Democratic speaker’s office responded that the staff member, Travis Shea, was reprimanded. But it said that the speaker, who has faced criticism for more than a year over his handling of sexual harassment complaints among legislative office and campaign staffs, was not made aware of the incidents at the time.
The Illinois Republican Party demanded Wednesday that Madigan release a full accounting of complaints against his staff members and how they were resolved.
Alaina Hampton’s lawsuit against Madigan’s campaign committees and the state Democratic Party contends that Travis Shea faced no repercussions for complaints against him by two women and that he continued to work on Madigan’s staff for two years.
“Both females reported Travis Shea’s sexual harassment and/or assault directly to attorney Heather Weir Vaught but nothing was done in response,” the lawsuit filing states. “In fact, Mr. Shea remained on the speaker’s staff for an additional two years thereafter.”
Madigan’s office issued a statement late Tuesday defending his staff’s action against Shea. It said that two women complained that Shea intimidated them and threatened to “make or break” their careers to Vaught, the House Democrats’ ethics officer. It says then-chief of staff Timothy Mapes reprimanded Shea and told him the alleged behavior must cease. Shea’s supervisor, Jessica Basham, then met with other women in Shea’s unit to elicit other possible complaints, but there were none.
“Speaker Madigan was not made aware of the allegations,” the statement said. “Had the allegations been brought to the speaker at the time, he would have terminated any employment relationship with Mr. Shea, as he has done on other occasions upon learning of such incidents.”
However, the alleged incidents occurred years before Madigan sent a letter to lawmakers in early 2018 in which he acknowledged that he had not done enough to eradicate unsavory behavior, and that his previously employed ”‘knock it off’ mentality is not enough.”
After leaving Madigan’s office in 2018, Shea became a lobbyist with Michael Best Strategies. A call to Shea at the firm Wednesday was directed to marketing officer Susan Hollender, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Links to Shea’s online profiles for Michael Best were no longer accessible Wednesday.
Madigan, 76, is the longest serving state House speaker in U.S. history, having held the gavel in Illinois for all but two years since 1983. He also is chairman of the state Democratic Party and is often mentioned as the most powerful politician in the state.
“The people of Illinois deserve to know that the most powerful political figure in the state is fully addressing sexual harassment allegations in his own office,” state Republican party spokesman Aaron DeGroot said.
Hampton had been a campaign worker since 2012 when she complained last year that her supervisor, Kevin Quinn, brother of Chicago Alderman Marty Quinn, had sent her a bevy of unwanted text messages seeking a date and pressing her for an explanation for her refusal. Madigan severed ties with Kevin Quinn but Hampton said he did so only after she went public.
Madigan said the Shea incidents were included on a list he released in February 2018 of nine incidents of alleged harassment in his office in recent years and how they were dealt with. There were no names associated with the incidents because the women involved requested confidentiality. The list was released in the wake of the dismissals of Quinn and another Madigan operative for harassment and calls for Madigan to step down as Democratic Party chairman.
Mapes resigned in June as chief of staff , House clerk and executive director of the Illinois Democratic Party after a longtime employee noted instances where Mapes was dismissive of harassment complaints and made inappropriate comments himself. Basham is now Madigan’s chief of staff.
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