Rotheimer: Hammond video 'victimizes me' all over again
Crime victims advocate Denise Rotheimer, who last year filed a sexual harassment complaint against Sen. Ira Silverstein (D-Chicago), says a recent video posted on Rep. Norine Hammond’s campaign page on Facebook only doubles down on the pain of being the victim of harassment.
“Now that Hammond’s opponent has given me a voice, she is angry and has victimized me all over again with her lies because she desperately needs to protect the status quo,” Rotheimer said.
Hammond’s GOP primary opponent, Abingdon businessman Joshua Griffith, has pointed to Hammond’s role in allowing the office of legislative inspector general (LIG), which investigates harassment charges in the Legislature, to remain vacant for nearly three years. Hammond and the other seven members of the Legislative Ethics Commission are required by law to fill the post immediately with an interim LIG when the office becomes vacant.
In her video on the Citizens for Hammond page, Hammond (R-Macomb) said that her opponent’s use of the experience of a survivor (Rotheimer) “is sickening.”
But Rotheimer said in an email message that the facts show otherwise:
“Hammond failed to perform an act that is required by law under the Ethics Act. The office of the inspector general was vacant for 3 years. Twenty-seven complaints including mine sat on a shelf and collected dust until my testimony on Oct. 31, 2017,” Rotheimer wrote. “Hammond needs to protect the status quo because she is part of the status quo. Hammond has lied about her opponent to protect her political interests while exploiting my experience which is sickening.”
In November, the Ethics Commission appointed lawyer Julie Porter to the LIG position on an interim basis, but only after Rotheimer laid out the allegations against Silverstein in an emotional public hearing in Springfield on Oct. 31. On Jan. 3, Rotheimer filed a complaint against Hammond and the other seven members of the commission with Porter for stymying the investigation into her harassment charges by not filling the LIG vacancy.
In the separate investigation – that of the harassment alleged by Rotheimer – Porter concluded two weeks ago that Silverstein did not commit sexual harassment, but that he did violate the section of the Illinois Governmental Ethics Act known as the legislative code of conduct. Porter recommended that Silverstein receive counseling from the Senate’s ethics officer.
After the initial public allegations by Rotheimer in October, the Senate Democratic Caucus stripped Silverstein of his leadership position.