Ex-staffer: Top Democrats slow to probe sex harassment claim
CHICAGO (AP) — A campaign worker for Illinois Democrats said Tuesday that it took party officials too long to respond after she reported sexual harassment by a male supervisor last year, allegations that prompted election-year calls for outside investigations and House Speaker Michael Madigan to step down from leadership roles.
Alaina Hampton, who has worked for Democratic campaigns since 2012, addressed reporters a day after Madigan dismissed longtime political consultant Kevin Quinn and said an internal investigation showed Quinn sent inappropriate text messages to a colleague. Madigan serves as the state’s Democratic Party leader. Quinn is Chicago Alderman Marty Quinn’s brother.
Kevin Quinn asked Hampton out numerous times and made suggestive comments through text message starting in 2016. She asked him to stop seven times, citing her desire for a professional relationship, according to her account and text logs shared with the Chicago Tribune .
In multiple messages, Quinn pressed Hampton, 28, to explain why she shouldn’t go out with him, also referring to her as “smoking hot” and “beautiful,” according to the text logs.
“I need you to stop,” one of her responses stated. “I have dedicated a lot of time to this election cycle and I will continue to do so, but I need to be able to do my work without you contacting me like this. I’m not interested. I just want to do my work.”
She reported the behavior in February 2017 to the alderman, who was Kevin Quinn’s supervisor. In November, she wrote Madigan a personal letter, and he had an attorney investigate.
Hampton said she felt her harasser was protected as months passed without follow-up.
She described “living in fear” and “crippling anxiety” that caused her to quit her job last year. She started a political consulting firm and has since filed a complaint with the Chicago office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
“I do not want my job with the Democratic Party back. Accepting that they weren’t going to protect me and that I was going to lose everything I worked for because a man could not control himself was devastating,” she said Tuesday, reading from a prepared statement. “I never wanted to do this but I know that my silence only protects the perpetrator and the organization, which will allow this situation to happen to someone else.”
Calls to a listed number for Kevin Quinn went unanswered Tuesday. He worked for Madigan’s political offices for almost two decades and was previously a state employee.
His alderman brother released a statement through Madigan’s office saying he thought he was protecting “Hampton’s privacy” and honoring her wishes in not speaking out. He said he told Kevin Quinn to cease the unwanted messages and “such behavior would not be tolerated.”
“He was remorseful and acknowledged his poor judgment,” Marty Quinn said of his brother.
Word of the case prompted calls for further investigation from Democrats running for governor and attorney general and a Republican gubernatorial candidate.
The Illinois primary is next month and a recurring theme has been trying to prove independence from Madigan, who’s the longest-serving House speaker nationwide. One Democratic legislator who’s often at odds with Madigan and is running for attorney general, Rep. Scott Drury, called for Madigan to step down from his legislative post while the House was in session Tuesday. Others said Madigan should step aside as party chairman pending further investigation.
Madigan announced Kevin Quinn’s resignation Monday, saying a “courageous woman” made him aware of the allegations in November and he sought further investigation. He said his political committees are working to improve reporting and response measures to such allegations. The Chicago Democrat told reporters in Springfield on Tuesday that he first heard about the allegations in November and dismissed the calls for him to step down as part of a political agenda. He appeared alongside Heather Wier Vaught, an attorney for Madigan’s personal campaign committee, who said a thorough investigation takes time.
Hampton, who worked on multiple campaigns for Democrats, was paid for employment through funds controlled by Madigan.
Associated Press writer John O’Connor in Springfield, Illinois, contributed to this report.
Follow Sophia Tareen on Twitter at https://twitter.com/sophiatareen.