Suburban lawmaker says anti-harrassment effort needs to 'name names'
A suburban lawmaker is refusing to support the push for additional sexual harassment training unless the women behind an effort to change the culture at the state Capitol start naming perpetrators.
"I'm not saying I'm blameless, but I'm damned sure not going to allow myself to be painted with their broad brush, nor will I subject myself to whatever 'training' is imposed," Woodstock Republican Rep. Steven Reick wrote on his website. "By implying that I'm part of the problem simply by occupying a seat on the House floor or through the accident of birth of having been born male, they're giving me every reason to say 'no.'"
To get his support, he said, "start naming names."
Reick's comments come after an open letter signed by more than 200 women involved in Illinois government and politics began circulating last week. It noted the time has come for women to "raise our collective voices, share our stories, and say #No more."
With "each act of aggression, a woman internalizes she is not enough," the letter reads. "We need to commit to challenging every elected official, every candidate, and every participant in our democratic process who is culpable."
The letter prompted the introduction of legislation requiring training and procedures for reporting and punishing sexual harassment among government employees and lobbyists in Illinois. The measure passed out of a committee Tuesday and is on a fast track for a full House vote in Springfield this month.
At that committee meeting, activist and lobbyist Denise Rotheimer of Ingleside, who is running as a Republican for the 62nd state House seat, publicly accused state Sen. Ira Silverstein of Chicago of harassment through inappropriate comments and late-night texts, Facebook messages and phone calls. Silverstein has disputed the accusations.
Reick said he assumes "the culture extends beyond Silverstein" and he has "no sympathy" for behavior akin to "acting like cave men with a club."
"I have absolutely no sympathy for anyone who would be so stupid in this day and age to harass anybody else sexually," Reick told the Daily Herald Wednesday. However, he said, "everything that I had been reading implied guilt by association simply by the fact you're a male or a member of the General Assembly." It was, he said, a brush "far too broad."
While Reick said his parents taught him "it was my job to resist the baser instincts to which we're all subject ... if my colleagues want me to sign on to this, they're certainly not doing it the right way."
Becky Carroll, an organizer of the Illinois Say No More effort, called Reick's comments "insensitive."
"Most reasonable people would agree that extensive training is warranted and welcome and part of the solution to ending the culture of sexual harassment in Illinois politics," she said, adding Reick "would be wise to embrace it."