Speaker Madigan faces questions over claimed failure to act following harassment allegations

 Illinois state House Speaker Michael Madigan is under pressure to explain why he waited three months before forcing the resignation of a top aide accused of sexual harassment of a young political worker.

Kevin Quinn, who bounced between roles working for the Democratic Party and the state of Illinois over the last year and a half, was essentially dismissed from his position within the party on Monday, just ahead of the Chicago Tribune revealing details of the harassment.

Quinn, the brother of Chicago alderman Marty Quinn, sent now 25-year-old Alaina Hampton 75 text messages, including several that were sexually inappropriate, over a near six month period, a press conference heard on Tuesday.

“I asked him to stop seven times,” Hampton told reporters at the press conference. “It never stopped. I feared not responding to my supervisor because I didn’t didn’t want him to tell the speaker or Ald. Quinn that I was not cooperating with my work.”

Hampton tweeted yesterday afternoon:

Hampton approached Ald. Quinn in January 2017, to tell him about the text messages. He, in turn, told his brother to stop. No more messages were sent.

The alderman for the 13th Ward,  where Madigan has been a committeeman for decades, said he believed she did not want to take it any further. She was also offered another job within the Democratic Party, but that would have meant continuing to work closely with Kevin Quinn. She left her position in April last year.

“I had hoped Ms. Hampton would continue to work with me, but I understand her desire to remove herself,” Ald. Quinn said in a statement on Tuesday.

He added that Hampton “asked for my discretion, and indicated she did not want others to know about the situation, and that Kevin not be further reprimanded.”

From mid-2016, Hampton was employed by the Friends of Mike J. Madigan and the Democratic Party of Illinois, during which time she worked out of the office of Ald. Quinn.

Kevin Quinn was her supervisor and almost immediately began sending inappropriate text messages, asking her out and complimenting her on Facebook photos taken while on vacation, Hampton said. In one text, he called her “smoking hot.”

From mid-March 2016 until June 30, 2016, Kevin Quinn worked for the state before switching to the political side between July 2016 and November 2016, Madigan spokesman Steve Brown told the Chicago Sun-Times. It was during the latter period the text messages were sent, Brown said.

He returned to his state work on Nov. 9, 2016, until July 31, 2017, and again moved to the political side on Aug. 1, 2017, until he was dismissed.

Hampton sent a handwritten letter directly to the speaker in November last year. This was just after the passing of  SB 402, which specifically prohibits sexual harassment within the legislature and other state bodies. It was championed by Madigan, but who now faces calls for his resignation, including from the Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Chris Kennedy.

She wrote, “On several occasions in the span of nearly 6 months, I told him to stop and that I was only interested in having a professional relationship.

“Since I was helping with the election, I had no choice but to communicate with him to fulfill my role. I was scared that he would tell MQ or you that I was not cooperating if I stopped responding to him.”

Within days, Hampton was contacted by Madigan’s attorney, Heather Weir Vaught. The pair met.

According to Hampton, Vaught joked about her wanting a “big Tribune story,” or a $25,000 financial payout, a claim the attorney has publicly denied. Hampton told Vaught she just wanted to work for the Democratic Party and the alderman, whom she described as a mentor.

But, after hearing nothing further, she reached out again to Ald, Quinn in mid-January. Once again, she was contacted by Vaught. At that point, Hampton said she knew her career with the party was over. In a release sent out prior to the press conference, the forced resignation of Quinn was described as “pro-active, but a cover up.”

Hampton has filed a discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. She is unable to allege sexual harassment as that has to be filed within 300 days of the last alleged action.

“The only reason this is not a sexual harassment complaint is because they led her on and ran the clock,” Lorna Brett, the former president of Chicago NOW who has provided pro bono assistance to Harvey Weinstein’s accusers, said in press materials ahead of the press conference.

“The irony of Michael Madigan protecting a sexual harasser while championing laws to fight it cannot be overstated,” Brett added.

“Seventy-five texts, repeated texts from a supervisor to a woman who is maybe half his age, the instant reaction I would think is, ‘My God, let me get on top of this right away and let’s get this done. Let’s get this resolved. Let’s get you out of this situation and help you and put him on notice that he has to stop and suffer the consequences.’ Not, ‘we’ll get back to you someday,’” Hampton’s attorney Shelly Kulwin told reporters at the press conference.