Villa Park legislator calls out 'harassment' culture among Madigan staffers

  • State Rep. Deb Conroy, a Villa Park Democrat, says she raised concerns about an "abuse of power" by a former aide to Speaker of the House Michael Madigan, which she said represents part of a political culture that needs to change.

    State Rep. Deb Conroy, a Villa Park Democrat, says she raised concerns about an "abuse of power" by a former aide to Speaker of the House Michael Madigan, which she said represents part of a political culture that needs to change.

  • Speaker Michael Madigan said he will "cooperate fully" with an investigation into harassment claims about his political organizations.

    Speaker Michael Madigan said he will "cooperate fully" with an investigation into harassment claims about his political organizations.

 
 
Updated 2/21/2018 9:36 AM

A Villa Park Democrat is among those calling out problems with the culture of "harassment and bullying" within the operation of Democratic Speaker of the House Michael Madigan and Illinois politics in general.

State Rep. Deb Conroy, who has served the 46th House District since 2013, said she voiced her concerns about the actions of a Madigan aide, whom she said acted improperly within a political environment that needs to change.

 

The aide, who has been identified in Chicago Sun-Times reports as lobbyist Shaw Decremer, was removed last week from four Democratic Illinois House campaigns, according to the political website Capitol Fax.

In a statement, Madigan said Decremer -- who was not referred to by name -- "will no longer be involved with any activities of my political committees."

Conroy said the actions Madigan took were adequate to address what has been described as "inappropriate behavior" by Decremer toward a candidate and staff during the 2016 election season.

"The situation was an abuse of power," Conroy said. "I dealt with it. I feel like it was taken care of the way it should have been taken care of."

by signing up you agree to our terms of service
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Conroy's concerns led Madigan to fire his second aide in as many weeks. Kevin Quinn was the first, after an investigation into unwanted advances reported by political consultant Alaina Hampton concluded he "engaged in inappropriate conduct."

In a statement, Conroy praised Hampton and said those who speak out are creating change.

"Like many women in Illinois government and politics, I have been impacted by a culture that condones harassment and bullying. I have had the opportunity to effectively address the ways that I have been personally impacted.

"But this is not about any one person, it's about a culture that needs to change. I'm encouraged by courageous voices like that of Alaina Hampton and by the changes that have been addressed by Speaker Madigan's office. There is still more work to do."

Now others in Illinois politics are calling for independent investigations into harassment claims about the speaker's political organizations, and Madigan said in a statement Tuesday he will "cooperate fully."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Conroy said she reported her concern to Madigan because it was part of a broader cultural issue that makes it difficult for female lawmakers to focus on their work.

"We're just trying to do our jobs," she said. "We're trying to change a culture that is a little bit difficult."

Madigan has said it's time to address these issues as well, and said three female leaders will do just that. State Rep. Carol Ammons of Urbana, U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos of Moline and state Comptroller Susana Mendoza of Chicago are expected to head a statewide conversation about the role of women in the Democratic Party.

"All three have very strong, independent voices," Conroy said about the women charged with facilitating the discussion. "They're strong leaders. I can't imagine anything but good would come out of that."

• The Chicago Sun-Times contributed to this report.

0 Comments
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 
Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.