Pritzker stumps in Aurora, wants independent look at harassment culture at Capitol

  • Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez, from left, Democratic gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker and East Aurora School District 131 Vice President Alex Arroyo meet with Pritzker supporters Wednesday at Pancho's Restaurant in Aurora.

      Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez, from left, Democratic gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker and East Aurora School District 131 Vice President Alex Arroyo meet with Pritzker supporters Wednesday at Pancho's Restaurant in Aurora. Marni Pyke | Staff Photographer

  • Democratic candidate for governor J.B. Pritzker shakes hands before speaking Wednesday at Mount St. Mary Park in St. Charles.

      Democratic candidate for governor J.B. Pritzker shakes hands before speaking Wednesday at Mount St. Mary Park in St. Charles. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 5/23/2018 7:49 PM

Democratic candidate for governor J.B. Pritzker Wednesday rebuffed criticisms from Republicans who said he was silent on state Rep. Kelly Cassidy's allegations that party leaders punished her for speaking out about sexual harassment.

Cassidy, a Chicago Democrat, said she lost a part-time job at the Cook County sheriff's office after calling for an independent review of sexual harassment, which she thinks pervades organizations led by Democratic Speaker Michael Madigan, at the Capitol.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"We need to listen to and believe Rep. Cassidy," Pritzker said while campaigning in Aurora. "We need there to be an independent investigation of the challenges she raised."

Cassidy posted a picture of herself and Pritzker on her Facebook page Tuesday, stating "great to start the day with our next governor and the House Democratic Women's Caucus." Pritzker first called for an independent investigation Tuesday.

"An investigation is the right answer, particularly in this day and age when we see the 'MeToo' movement and are finally going to change the culture in the United States," Pritzker said.

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner's campaign and Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti, of Wheaton, stepped up attacks on Pritzker for being silent about Madigan.

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"J.B. Pritzker has got to speak ... if Madigan's machine is engaged in this wrongdoing -- that's something J.B. Pritzker must do and his silence has been deafening," Sanguinetti told WRPW-FM radio on Wednesday.

Madigan denied he had retaliated against Cassidy and has asked the legislative inspector general to examine her claims. Cassidy, who worked as a program manager at the sheriff's office, questioned how independent the inspector general's probe would be.

Pritzker, heir to the Hyatt hotel chain, met with supporters and Hispanic small-business owners at Pancho's restaurant in Aurora, accompanied by Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez.

"We need 24 seats to take over the House, and I think Illinois can play a really important role," said Perez, citing races in the 6th and 14th districts where Republican Reps. Peter Roskam and Randy Hultgren are incumbents, respectively.

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