Editor's Note: After more than a year of outside investigation, a report has been released surrounding claims of sexual harassment and overall workplace cultural issues within the Illinois House of Representatives, Office of the Speaker. This is Part 3 of a report on the 202-page document.
Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago) first publicly spoke out against Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan’s handling of sexual harassment allegations in February of 2018. After months of feeling harassed and intimidated in response to standing up for her colleagues and speaking out against the House’s workplace culture, she formally addressed the media on May 21, 2018, with a number of accusations against then-Chief of Staff Timothy Mapes, Speaker Madigan and Rep. Robert Rita.
The findings of the report, led by Maggie Hickey and her Schiff Hardin LLP investigative team, specifically highlighted three key accusations:
Mr. Mapes attempted to intimidate Rep. Cassidy by contacting her outside employer and asking if she still worked there.
Rep. Rita sponsored a bill that was supported by Rep. Cassidy’s outside employer, and he promoted the fact that Rep. Cassidy did not support the bill with the intent to affect her outside employment.
Speaker Madigan rejected a meeting with Rep. Cassidy and later appeared to threaten her committee positions.
While Cassidy did not directly allege that the three men conspired to retaliate against her, she alluded that the overall culture in itself was one where everyone independently understood to retaliate against anyone who publicly criticized Madigan.
“The slow and steady drip of accusations and dismissals has turned into an endless cycle of lather, rinse, repeat, highlighting the culture of harassment in the legislature and political campaigns,” stated Cassidy in a February 2018 press release.
Hickey and her investigative team reviewed “among other things, emails, text messages, letters, and various public statements,” according to the report.
“Ms. Hickey interviewed over 100 people who work or have worked in the Capitol workplace, including Representative Cassidy, Ms. (Cara) Smith, Sheriff (Tom) Dart, Representative Rita, and Speaker Madigan. Ms. Hickey contacted Mr. Mapes’s attorney for an interview regarding Representative Cassidy’s allegations, but Mr. Mapes declined the interview.”
In all three key highlighted allegations, Hickey and her team concluded that they did not have sufficient evidence to find any violations or wrongdoings within the Speaker’s Office. Conversely, they also could not find any evidence to support the idea that Rep. Cassidy's accusations were false and admitted that they could see why she had reason to believe that she was being mistreated due to the culture that surrounded her.
“Even though we did not find sufficient evidence to support Representative Cassidy’s interpretation of Mr. Mapes’s, Representative Rita’s, and Speaker Madigan’s conduct to find wrongdoing, we also did not find sufficient evidence to conclude that Representative Cassidy made knowingly false allegations,” states the report. “In fact, we believe there was sufficient evidence for Representative Cassidy to reasonably believe that people would attempt to defend Speaker Madigan against her public criticisms.”
The report, however, notes that accusations alone have changed the culture around Cassidy, her workplace and her colleagues despite no legal action taking place against the three accused men and those around them.
“While we did not find sufficient evidence to support Representative Cassidy’s allegations, we believe that Representative Cassidy went public with genuine concerns about her workplace,” concludes Section 2 of the report. “Since then, she believes that her workplace and relationship with Speaker Madigan have improved.
“If Representative Cassidy’s goal was to stop the behavior she thought was a problem, she was successful. Since then, Representative Cassidy has not made any further allegations regarding purported mistreatment by Mr. Mapes, Representative Rita, or Speaker Madigan.”