While House Speaker Michael Madigan Chief of Staff Tim Mapes resigned just hours after allegations of harassment and making sexist comments were made against him, a couple of his accusers say more needs to be done to give voice to those who are wronged.
Madigan office employee Sherri Garrett told reporters Wednesday that Mapes on several occasions made inappropriate comments to her and others over the years. She said there was nowhere to report the behavior because she didn't trust the process of filing complaints against lawmakers and their staff.
“If there had been a true professional human resources team they could have said ‘no’ and perhaps we could have nipped it in the bud right then and there,” Garrett said.
Rep. Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago, said that’s a great idea. But ultimately Cassidy, who last month alleged Mapes attempted to intimidate her, said it will take more people speaking up about their experiences and speaking out to condemn bad behavior.
“I will say that sunshine is the truly the best disinfectant and, so, calling it out when you see it, when you experience it, is huge,” Cassidy said.
State Rep. Jeanne Ives, R-Wheaton, reacted to the unfolding news on Facebook.
“There is a culture problem that leadership is not addressing,” Ives said. “There is a power problem when you can't trust the politicians to oversee the complaints. There is a fairness problem when as a complainant you have no rights when you file a complaint.”
Ives reiterated her push for a measure to give accusers rights when they file complaints with the Legislative Ethics Commission.
“At a minimum the General Assembly should give complainants rights like those in [House Bill 4840],” she said.
Legislative Ethics Commission member, state Sen. Karen McConnaughay, R-St. Charles, said it was appropriate for Mapes to resign.
"At the end of the day, we need to keep going until we have eradicated that type of unacceptable behavior in Illinois politics," said McConnaughay, who announced Wednesday she will not seek re-election.
The Legislative Ethics Commission has been the target of immense criticism ever since last October, when it was revealed the office of legislative inspector general was vacant for three years and more than two dozen complaints against lawmakers and their staff sat idle. Since then, a special legislative inspector general has been named, but critics say that’s not a full-blown LIG as is required by law.
Before ending session last week, lawmakers passed changes to the LEC and LIG process, but the chief sponsor of the measure in the Senate, state Sen. Malinda Bush, D-Grayslake, said it excluded a crucial element – giving the LIG autonomy from the commission to investigate complaints without permission. That's something McConnaughay has been pushing for.
Within hours of Garrett’s accusation Wednesday, Madigan’s office said Mapes has resigned.
“At my direction, Tim Mapes has resigned as my Chief of Staff and Clerk of the Illinois House of Representatives,” Madigan’s statement said. “Mapes has resigned as the Executive Director of the Democratic Party of Illinois and all other roles with my political committees.”
“I have no doubt Madigan knew this was going on,” Ives said.
“[N]either I or the House Democratic Ethics Officer had been made aware of Ms. Garrett’s complaints against Tim Mapes,” Madigan said.
One of Garrett’s accusations against Mapes included his downplaying a claim against former state Rep. Ken Dunkin.
She said in a statement that in the Spring 2013, “Dunkin approached the House Well and said to [Garrett and another woman], ‘I want to take both of you home and see which one will be the naughtiest.’ ... Garrett reported the incident (and) later heard that when Mr. Mapes was told about the incident, his response was that it would blow over.”
“My office was aware of the comments made by then Representative Dunkin and took action to handle the matter,” Madigan said. “That issue had been disclosed publicly earlier this year by my office along with all other known allegations of harassment.”
A phone call and email to Dunkin were not immediately returned.
Dunkin was recently appointed to a position on the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District by Gov. Bruce Rauner, who called for Dunkin to resign.
“For too long, a culture of abuse has been permitted within state government – we must not tolerate it,” Rauner spokesperson Rachel Bold said in an email. “Our Administration has acted decisively to change it in the executive branch through administrative action and Executive Order. We have also called on Ken Dunkin to resign from the MWRD.”
“To the women who haven’t stepped forward, who have their own stories to tell, know that we plan to act swiftly to ensure an independent process is in place to investigate future allegations and the culture Speaker Madigan has created,” Bold said.
Cassidy, who last month alleged Mapes attempted to intimidate her after she was critical of Madigan’s handling of harassment allegations, said it will take more than just one fix.
“I will say that sunshine is truly the best disinfectant,” Cassidy said. “So calling it out when you see it, when you experience it, is huge.”
Mapes is the second major Madigan ally within a week to come under fire for allegations of harassment. Rep. Lou Lang last week resigned his leadership position in the House and his post on two powerful committees following harassment and intimidation allegations.
“It is clear that the culture needs to change and we need to ensure all issues are dealt with quickly and appropriately,” Madigan said Wednesday.