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Time's Up, unless you want to sexually harass someone in Illinois' state capitol

Belleville News Democrat

Saturday, March 10, 2018  |  Editorial  |   By the Editorial Board

Legislature (56) , Sexual Harassment (96) Madigan, Michael--State House, 22
There's a new movement in Springfield, the Time's Up When We Say So Defensive Fund. It's founder and champion is Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan.

Time's up when we say so on getting an inspector general. Three years of inaction allowed 27 sexual harassment complaints to pile up. Madigan finally said it was time. It was coincidence that it came after 160 people signed an open letter exposing the inaction.

Time's up when we say so on investigating a campaign worker's complaints about a top Madigan political lieutenant's sexual overtures. Three months passed and Alaina Hampton heard nothing about her complaint to Madigan. Madigan finally said it was time. It was coincidence that he dismissed his guy after Hampton went public.

Time's up when we say so on being transparent about how other harassment cases were handled. Madigan finally said it was time. It was on Feb. 27 amid mounting pressure from his own folks that he gave vague descriptions of nine cases in five years handled by his government office.

What was most interesting was what information was left out. No details on unresolved cases in the statehouse offices. No details on his political machine, which is where Hampton was creeped by an older guy who wouldn't take "no" for an answer.

The weight of the mess has state representatives, gubernatorial candidates and an attorney general candidate — all from his own party — calling for Madigan's resignation and an investigation. Madigan refuses. He denies he's responsible for a culture that protects harassers.

“There’s no culture with me, and if you read through how these were processed you can see that at the leadership level we don’t tolerate inappropriate behavior, we just don’t tolerate it,” Madigan said.

Ten confirmed cases in five years with great potential for there being more. Just one was fired, and he was a lobbyist rather than a state employee. Zero tolerance. No culture — or class — after 33 record years as House Speaker.

Time's up when we say so.