Jim Dodge, the Republican candidate for state treasurer, desperately wants answers from lawmakers in Springfield.
While Dodge says he isn’t sure how he feels about talk of elected officials and government workers being stripped of their benefits and pensions if they’re accused of things like sexual harassment, he does wonder why everyone in Springfield and government should be entitled to such a hefty pension plan to begin with.
“Why are we so giving with taxpayer money to begin with,” he told the Prairie State Wire. “I think that’s a good question to start with.”
Rep. Michael Madigan
As it is, the controversy now centers on the four individuals with close ties to powerful House Speaker Mike Madigan (D-Chicago) who have been ensnared in sexual harassment scandals now rocking Springfield but remain eligible to receive their full state pensions.
Tim Mapes and Kevin Quinn were both forced to step down from their posts, while Sen. Ira Silverstein (D-Chicago) and Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie), Madigan’s No.2 in Springfield, were forced to cede key leadership positions.
Mapes, Madigan’s longtime chief of staff, is the latest to go after fellow Madigan staffer Sherri Garrett stepped forward to accuse him of harassment and bullying.
The Chicago Tribune, however, reports after 40 years in state government Mapes is still eligible to collect a pension of more than $135,000 per year with annual pension increases of 3 percent
During her primary run for governor, Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton) estimated that Quinn is in line for a $750,000 payout from state taxpayers after contributing roughly $26,000 to his pension over 17 years of service.
Meanwhile, Silverstein recently passed the 20-year threshold, making him eligible for a yearly payment of 85 percent of his final legislative salary. In 2017, around the same time local activist Denise Rotheimer went public with her allegations of harassment against him, his yearly salary totaled almost $88,500, according to the comptroller's office.
“Clearly, something is broken in Springfield,” Dodge said. “It’s all the result of people not doing what they were sent there to do. Everyone knows corruption is now part of Springfield. Plenty of good people go to do great work, but other things happen too. The #Metoo issue is part of the caustic culture.”
In the end, Dodge said it’s up to the people to determine what kind of government they want.
“There needs to be an appropriate fact-finding mission; then voters have to take it all in and make a decision at the polls in November,” he said.