Lang announces resignation as House Deputy Majority Leader after harassment allegations

SPRINGFIELD, Ill (WLS) -- A top Democrat has resigned his leadership post in the Illinois House after a legislative activist alleged he harassed and humiliated her. But he calls the allegations "absurd."

House Deputy Majority Leader Lou Lang of Skokie submitted his resignation Thursday as the No. 3 House Democrat. Lang also resigned from the House Ethics Committee.

Medical-marijuana activist Maryann Loncar says she interacted with Lang over the past four years. She says he once touched her low on her back and said: "Does your husband know how lucky he is to have a wife like you?" She says he also once suggested joining her for dinner had she not been with her husband.

Loncar claims the two clashed over medical marijuana, and Lang later said she wasn't welcome in Springfield - and at one point called her ex-husband to offer his help to "bury" Loncar.

Lang told reporters that Loncar didn't get what she wanted from state government.

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Illinois House Deputy Majority Leader Lou Lang (D-Skokie) announced his resignation from the post Thursday. Lang also resigned from the House Ethics Committee.

Maryann Locar came forward with the allegations of harassment, which she said started because she overheard a bribe offered to Lang and two other lawmakers by a Lake County company that was seeking and was later denied a medical marijuana license. She says that company has now sued over the denial.

Lang released the following statement regarding the resignation:
"Let me say this. My original sponsorship of medical marijuana legislation in 2013 was focused on the patients who came to my office, some in wheel chairs. Some were too ill to come. The sick children, the ill men and women were my priority. And the patients remain my priority with each new iteration of the law. My priority was not helping those seeking to profit off medical marijuana, like, Ms. Loncar, who wanted a cannabis dispensary license for her company, Patient's Health Center, but, apparently failed at her money-making effort to secure a dispensary license. Because I refused to let the medical marijuana profiteers trump the interests of patients, I made some people mad. So be it. Therefore, I have submitted a formal request to the Special Legislative Inspector General to begin an immediate investigation. Additionally, after consultation with Speaker Madigan, I have decided, in order to maintain the integrity of the Legislative Ethics Commission and the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules as well as to avoid distraction from the agenda of the House Democratic Caucus, to submit my resignation from the Commission, JCAR, and from my post as House Deputy Majority Leader."

Following Lang's announcement, House Speaker Michael Madigan issued a statement saying:
"I appreciate the courage it takes for individuals to come forward to share their experiences, and in doing so urge us all to do better. Representative Lang has already requested that the legislative inspector general immediately conduct a full investigation of these allegations and I'm hopeful she will conduct this investigation quickly and thoroughly. After consultation with me, Representative Lang has submitted his resignation from House leadership, as well as from the Legislative Ethics Commission and the Joint Commission on Administrative Rules."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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