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New Dem Harassment Panel Won't Take Party Money

Brian Mackey
NPR Illinois
Susana Mendoza

A new panel will look at how to curb sexual harassment and abuse of campaign workers. It follows scrutiny of the Democratic Party of Illinois.

In response to the negative attention, House Speaker Michael Madigan, who is also the state party chair, called on three female Illinois politicians to form a panel looking at the issue of sexual harassment and bullying. U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, Comptroller Susana Mendoza, and State Rep. Carol Ammons released a letter over the weekend stating they will convene a panel based on Madigan's request, and they want independence. They will raise their own money, independent of party funds, and do their own analysis.

While legislative staff can report claims to the Legislative Inspector General, campaign workers don’t have that option. The panel, dubbed the Anti-Harassment, Equality, and Access Panel, says it will offer solutions to better protect campaign and political workers' rights. 

"Sexual harassment and inequality have damaged the lives and undermined the careers of countless women in every profession. All of us share in the responsibility to address this long-standing and pervasive ill that exists in our culture that has spanned generations," the letter reads in part. The panel's goal is to "identify and eliminate obstacles" for women and "to elevate women into positions of leadership in the Democratic Party of Illinois by providing recommendations to promote a culture of equity, safety, and respect.” You can read the letter here.

Rachel Otwell of the Illinois Times is a former NPR Illinois reporter.
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