#MeToo: Report outlines ways to change culture in Illinois politics

CHICAGO — An anti-harassment  panel formed in the wake of sexual harassment allegations in Springfield released a report Wednesday with a series of recommendations.

From training to thorough investigations and prioritizing diversity, the panel of democratic women called the recommendations in the report a blueprint to change the culture in state politics.

Last October, political fundraiser Katelynd Duncan was one of six women who penned an open letter detailing widespread sexual harassment.

“It really crushes your spirit,” said Duncan. “It made me feel like I wasn’t taken seriously or respected for the work I was doing.”

Within days, scores of people signed on to the letter sending shockwaves throughout the state. Duncan raised money for the Illinois Anti-Harassment, Equality and Access Panel (AHEA) which formed earlier this year.

Panel members Comptroller Susana Mendoza, State Rep. Carol Ammons and State Sen. Melinda Bush toured the state listening to women tell their stories.

The panel’s report does not propose legislative changes, but has a series of recommendations for state parties, political leaders and campaigns including:

  • Adopt clear and non-negotiable policies that go beyond the law
  • Provide anti-harassment training to everyone involved in campaigns
  • Tie party funding and resources to campaigns adopting policies and participating in training
  • Provide multiple discrete avenues for reporting misconduct
  • Establish an independent body to receive and investigate complaints
  • Commit to a concrete goal of women filling 50% of the seats in the Illinois General Assembly

Illinois Democratic Party Chairman Michael Madigan, who has admitted he did not do enough to address sexual harassment, released a statement Wednesday saying a number of the panel’s recommendations are now in place in the party.

“Additional steps to curb unacceptable behavior and make our party a welcoming place for all will continue to be considered and implemented going forward,” Madigan said.

“I think training is critical, accountability is critical and we need male leaders to step up and have conversations with each other and do work peer to peer inside our community,” co-founder and executive director of Men4Choice Oren Jacobson said.

The panel members said they are willing to meet with party leaders to give feedback and guidance on next steps.

“Sexual harassment and intimidation are not and never will be tolerated in the Illinois Republican Party or in our campaigns,” said Tim Schneider, chairman of the Illinois Republican Party. “We are glad this important issue is getting the attention it deserves.”

Read the full report below:

AHEA Report Final by WGN Web Desk on Scribd