Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton) had something to say Wednesday before Gov. Bruce Rauner's before the State of the State speech.
After rising for a point of personal privilege before Rauner took the podium for the annual State of the State address, Ives, who is running against Rauner in the Republican primary, made it clear that Legislative Inspector General Julie Porter’s recent handling of activist Denise Rotheimer’s ethics complaint against Sen. Ira Silverstein (D-Chicago), and ultimate dismissal of sexual harassment charges, was not acceptable.
“Her case may have been decided, and I make no comment on that, but justice has not been given to Denise Rotheimer,” Ives said. “I urge the Legislative Ethics Commission to have Ms. Rotheimer in to listen to her story and have her testify to the broken process in Springfield of handling ... complaints.”
Ives said her suspicions of sexual harassment in the Capitol have been confirmed.
“When we learned of the effectively off-the-book congressional slush fund unknown to most members of Congress set up to protect members of Congress by making accusers jump through a myriad of hoops to file a claim and then quietly paid them off and when they followed through, I and others wondered if Illinois politicians might be doing something similar,” Ives said.
She said when the horror stories about barbaric behavior, mainly by men toward women, in Hollywood, media and politics began to break at the end of last year, it was only a matter of time before the culture in Springfield came under scrutiny.
“Denise Rotheimer came forth and told her story and then 300 women signed an open #MeToo letter about the culture of sexual harassment in Springfield,” Ives said. “Names were not named, but specific examples of unethical behavior at minimum were provided, yet only Denise Rotheimer had the courage to come forward and tell her story.”
She said the process of filing an ethics complaint must change.
“That’s what needs to happen in Springfield for accountability to occur,” Ives said. “We have elections in March and November, and it is ... the failures of legislative leaders and the ethics committee, and really the governor at this point, who have failed to do their job at this point to assure a legislative inspector general was in place to have complaints handled in a timely manner.”
She said voters should not have to pay the price given the political gamesmanship.
“It is appropriate to give the complaints the opportunity to be adjudicated in the court of public opinion,” Ives said. “I call for the other complaints that were ignored for as long as three years and be immediately released to the public with the names of the accusers redacted.”