State Week: Unread 2012 Email Costs Ag Director His Job; Senate President Election Preview
More fallout from the “rape in Champaign” email: Ag Director John Sullivan is out.
The email, first reported last week by Chicago public radio station WBEZ-FM, was from Mike McClain, a lobbyist and longtime friend of House Speaker Michael Madigan. In 2012 he was making an argument for Forrest Ashby, a state worker the email said was facing a disciplinary hearing. McClain praised Ashby for having “kept his mouth shut on Jones’ ghost workers, the rape in Champaign and other items.”
Ashby was apparently a constituent of then-state Sen. John Sullivan, so McClain forwarded the email to Sullivan. Last year, Pritzker appointed Sullivan director of agriculture. After the McClain email was made public by WBEZ, Pritzker’s general counsel asked Sullivan to search his email archives, and that’s when he found the message. Saying Sullivan ought to have reported the email to the authorities, Pritzker sought and received Sullivan’s resignation.
“The summer of 2012 was a stressful time for me,” Sullivan said Monday in a statement to WBEZ. “I was in the middle of a state Senate reelection campaign, as well as preparing for and undergoing cancer surgery in Baltimore, MD. I was already well aware of McClain’s efforts to keep me informed of his advocacy on behalf of Ashby, and l simply did not read the entire forwarded email.”
“Had I read the email thoroughly, my reaction would have been disgust and I would have immediately notified proper authorities. Nevertheless, the email was in my inbox and not reading the entire email led to my failure to immediately respond as I would have,” Sullivan told WBEZ.
Meanwhile, members of the Illinois Senate will gather in the Capitol Sunday to elect a new Senate president.