Bill would have stopped campaign fund use to settle sexual harassment suits

Bill would have stopped campaign fund use to settle sexual harassment suits

Former Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan spent nearly $900,000 in campaign funds to fight a sexual harassment lawsuit. A bill would stop lawmakers from using donations to settle harassment claims.

Former Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan in 2019 used nearly $900,000 in campaign funds to pay legal fees and settle Alaina Hampton’s sexual harassment lawsuit against former Madigan campaign boss Kevin Quinn.

House Bill 3908 would have stopped state lawmakers in part from doing as Madigan did, but it failed to be voted out of committee by the March 26 deadline. State lawmakers are still considering ethics reforms to repair some of the damage left by the former House speaker, and restrictions on campaign spending might still surface as part of another bill or in the fall session.

State Rep. Michelle Mussman, D-Schaumberg, introduced the bill with co-sponsor Rep. Katie Stuart, D-Edwardsville. The bill would bar lawmakers from using campaign funds towards settlement agreements for public official or candidates in cases related to allegations of sexual harassment or unlawful discrimination under state or federal law. The bill did not address using campaign funds for legal fees in the cases.

Hampton was a former campaign worker who sued Madigan’s campaign committee after she told Madigan about sexual harassment by Quinn and nothing was done. She said Quinn sent her repeated text messages seeking romance. Quinn later had his home raided by the FBI as part of a sweeping federal anti-corruption investigation, which also implicated the longtime House speaker in 2020 regarding a more than $1.3 million ComEd bribery scheme.

Madigan’s campaign committee, Friends of Michael J. Madigan, settled with Hampton for $275,000 in early December 2019. His committees also spent $600,000 on legal fees to defend against the lawsuit.

House Bill 3908 would have helped erase some of Madigan’s legacy of corruption. There are other ethics reforms state lawmakers should adopt as they distance themselves from how Madigan operated. Bills are still alive to:

  • Empower the Legislative Inspector General so the office can investigate allegations of wrongdoing by state lawmakers without first obtaining permission from their peers.
  • Stop lawmakers from leaving the Statehouse one day and returning the next as paid lobbyists.
  • Stop sitting state lawmakers from working as paid lobbyists of other government entities.
  • Expand lawmakers’ financial disclosure statements and include their immediate family members, giving voters insight into their financial interests that the current disclosures fail to provide.

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