SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — State Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie) on Thursday resigned his post as deputy majority leader of the Illinois House amid allegations of harassment and retaliation.
Maryann Loncar, an activist who pushed for medical marijuana legislation, at a news conference Thursday claimed Lang repeatedly harassed and intimidated her over the years.
Lang called for an investigation into Loncar's claims and resigned from several state leadership positions. He will continue to serve as a state representative for the Skokie area.
In a statement, Lang said: "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."
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Loncar said Lang committed "terrible acts against her." She alleged Lang put his hand on her lower back below her underwear line and asked, "Does your husband know how lucky he is to have a wife like you?"
Loncar also claimed Lang told Loncar's ex-husband, "I can help you bury her if you want," the Sun-Times reported.
“When they call your ex-husband and tell you they’re going to bury you, that’s not politics," Loncar said. "That’s not hardball. That’s direct retaliation."
In his statement, Lang asked for an investigation into the accusations — but also attacked Loncar for "seeking to profit off medical marijuana" legislation that Lang sponsored.
"Because I refused to let the medical marijuana profiteers trump the interests of patients, I made some people mad," Lang said. "So be it. Therefore, I have submitted a formal request to the Special Legislative Inspector General to begin an immediate investigation."
Loncar said she witnessed Lang being offered a bribe, but did not provide proof.
She also claimed she documented her allegations against Lang, but will not hand over anything to the legislative inspector general because she does not trust the system.
Lang called the allegations absurd.
Lang said he consulted with Speaker Madigan about the situation Thursday morning. After the meeting, he decided to leave his post on the Ethics Commission and his job as deputy majority leader. But Lang remained defiant and questioned Loncar’s motives.
Loncar stood with victims’ rights advocate Denise Rotheimer, who herself accused a lawmaker of harassment. Also,supporting Loncar was Republican Rep. Jeanne Ives.
"There are many victims out there," Ives said. "They don't have the ability to really get their story out. They don’t feel comfortable going to the authorities."
Lang held a news conference with female colleagues and a lobbyist who expressed strong support for him. He intends to remain a lawmaker and he said he’ll work to clear his name.