Sexual harassment case against Madigan campaign ends with $275K settlement
Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan settled a sexual harassment case involving his former political lieutenant, but the related corruption implications are far from over.
Alaina Hampton just wanted to be a Democratic political worker, but a lieutenant to Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan wanted more from her. Madigan, by his own admission, did too little to stop him.
Under a settlement agreement reached in November, Madigan’s campaign paid Hampton $275,000 to settle her federal lawsuit, which claimed nothing was done about the sexual harassment by her former boss. Of that sum, $200,000 goes to her lawyers. Madigan paid his lawyers $600,000, which is almost exactly what he’s taken into his political fund from unions and businesses since the end of September. Leading the way in those contributions was the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which contributed more than $71,000 to Friends of Michael J. Madigan, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Madigan received a little more than $1 million in the quarter before that.
Hampton received more than 70 suggestive text messages in less than five months from Madigan’s former state and political aide Kevin Quinn, remarking that she was “smoking hot” in a bikini, that he couldn’t stop thinking about her and repeatedly asking if the two might date if he weren’t older and her boss. Hampton repeatedly rebuffed Quinn’s unwanted advances.
The harassment scandal and Hampton’s lawsuit in total cost the speaker $875,000.
The ultimate cost to Madigan remains to be seen as federal investigators probe more than $30,000 in payments that a former Madigan confidant funneled through ComEd lobbyists to Quinn after he was fired.
After more harassment allegations came out involving other Madigan staff, the speaker promised to do better in a Tribune op-ed published in September 2018. That was the same month ComEd made those payments to Quinn.
Months before quitting the Democratic organization, Hampton told Quinn’s brother, Ald. Marty Quinn of Chicago’s 13th Ward, about the 70 text messages in February 2017. Madigan has long been a Democratic committeeman in Marty Quinn’s ward.
In November 2017, she wrote Madigan about the harassment. Again, nothing happened.
So in February 2018, she went to the Chicago Tribune with her story and copies of the text messages. Madigan fired Kevin Quinn hours later.More women came forward about sexual harassment on Madigan’s watch, forcing his chief of staff, Tim Mapes, to quit his $208,000-a-year job. Madigan cut ties to two other staffers accused of harassment last year.
The allegations swirling around Madigan in 2018 led numerous pundits to speculate that the #MeToo movement might halt the career of the man who is the nation’s longest-serving and most-powerful House speaker. He’s been speaker for all but two years since 1983.
Hampton told the Sun-Times on Dec. 3 that she was satisfied with the settlement and that she’s glad it’s over.
“I’m not a money person, and no amount of money is going to give me those three years of my life back,” she said.
But Madigan’s trials appear far from over.
While it may not be #MeToo alone that takes down the speaker, corruption connected to the sexual harassment could be a significant part of it. Federal agents have raided homes and offices of six people with ties to Madigan, including the home of Kevin Quinn. An FBI informant was wearing a wire during a conversation at Madigan’s law office.
Illinois’ culture of corruption costs the state at least $550 million a year in lost economic opportunity, and that’s just the illegal acts. Legal corruption, including cronyism, costs the state much more and is part of the reason Illinois ranks as second-most corrupt state in the nation.
The Illinois Policy Institute supports the following anti-corruption reform measures, many of which were recommended in a 2009 state report released following the indictment of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich:
- Adopting revolving door restrictions on state lawmakers becoming lobbyists.
- Empowering the Illinois legislative inspector general to investigate lawmaker corruption. As is, this muzzled watchdog office must seek approval from a panel of state lawmakers before opening investigations, issuing subpoenas and even publishing summary reports.
- Mandating state lawmakers recuse themselves from votes in which they have a conflict of interest. There is no current state law or even parliamentary rule requiring Illinois lawmakers to disclose a conflict of interest or to excuse themselves from voting on issues where they have personal or private financial interests.
- Reforming the Illinois House rules, which grant more concentrated power to the House speaker than any other legislative rules in the country.
- Using objective scoring criteria for capital projects, akin to Virginia’s Smart Scale model. This ensures infrastructure dollars are directed by need rather than clout.
- Passing a bipartisan constitutional amendment to end politically drawn legislative maps in Illinois.
Illinois is in a corruption crisis that promises to take down more elected leaders. State lawmakers can take action to clean up the mess, or they can wait for the FBI to do it for them.