Durkin sex harassment hotline blasted as too little, too late
Mickey Straub says sexual harassment in Springfield is such a potent issue it could ultimately topple the man he considers the most powerful politician in IIlinois: House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago).
“Leadership in Springfield has failed to protect women,” Straub told the Will County Gazette after Rep. Jim Durkin (R-Western Spring) introduced legislation establishing a hotline to handle sexual harassment complaints in the Capitol. Those duties have traditionally fallen to a legislative inspector general, but that position has been vacant since 2014.
“I’ve heard there have been at least a couple dozen complaints that have gone unchecked over that time,” Straub said “I think this could be a smoking gun, enough to finally bring down the Madigan regime after all these years.”
Straub, who is running against Durkin in the 82nd District primary, also questioned the House GOP leader’s motivation for only now acting on the issue.
“Part of it is damage control,” he said. “This is an issue the spotlight has been cast on across the country, and here in Illinois you’ve got an election year coming up.”
Instead of the hotline, the Burr Ridge mayor called for the immediate appointment of a new inspector general and the release of all complaints that have not been sufficiently investigated while the post has been vacant.
Durkin has said his legislation will create a “safe outlet” for victims in need of counseling, protective services or assistance at any point in the process of filing a complaint.
After Madigan recently introduced legislation mandating sensitivity training for all lawmakers, political activist Denise Rotheimer went before an Illinois House committee in Chicago to tell her story of alleged harassment at the hands of Sen. Ira Silverstein (D-Chicago), who has since resigned from the Democratic Leadership Committee.
“Everyone in leadership deserves blame,” Straub said. “Jim Durkin is engaging in political pandering to cover for years of inaction by himself and the Democrats.”
The 82nd District covers parts of Cook, DuPage and Will counties, including Darien, Homer Glen, Lemont and Willowbrook.