Sexual harassment scandals cost Madigan some control of state Democratic party

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The sexual harassment scandals that have shaken up the top of the state Democratic party are now chipping away at House Speaker Mike Madigan's control. He announced today that he has stepped aside from the process of choosing the replacement for the party's executive director.

Tim Mapes who also served as Madigan's chief of staff, resigned under fire this week, forced out after another Madigan staffer, Sherri Garrett, went public with accusations against Mapes of sexual harassment and abuse of power. Senator Dick Durbin also called the party to action Friday.

"I called Mike Madigan this morning and I told him that we have a serious challenge here, but we have the right way to deal with it," he said.

Durbin said he suggested to Madigan that he appoint a panel of women to choose a replacement for Mapes. This afternoon Madigan announced he has set up a committee comprised of the 18 elected Democratic State Central Committeewomen to do just that.

State Representative Juliana Stratton, the party's candidate for lieutenant governor, is one of five co-chairs.

"Our party is going to be right on this issue and he has clearly stepped aside and said he's given this, delegating this to the women that we trust," Durbin said.

JB Pritzker, Democratic candidate for governor, avoided questions of whether Madigan should step down as Party chairman, but said Madigan bears blame for the actions of those under him, including Mapes.

"I believe he does and that that responsibility is to rid the entire organization of people who are committing these, you know these unfortunate sexual harassment incidents," he said.

Governor Bruce Rauner announced that he signed a bill Friday that allows the legislative inspector general to launch harassment investigations on her own without first getting the green light from the Ethics Commission.

"It's a good step forward so women and other victims of harassment and abuse can now have an independent investigation process that Madigan and his lieutenants cannot stop or influence," Rauner said.
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