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Friday, October 18, 2019

Culture of harassment, bullying in Madigan’s office detailed in probe

Their View

By Austin Berg, Illinois Policy Institute | Aug 27, 2019


In 1988, American economist Robert Klitgaard boiled down corruption into a simple formula:

Corruption equals monopoly, plus discretion, minus accountability.

Klitgaard’s formula came to mind when reading attorney Maggie Hickey’s report on House Speaker Mike Madigan’s office and the Illinois House of Representatives released this week. And Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s muddled reaction to it.

Madigan hired Hickey to conduct an investigation into his operation’s workplace culture following the ouster of his longtime second-in-command Tim Mapes last year due to harassment allegations. The report explores specific claims of harassment and bullying through interviews with more than 100 people with ties to Madigan’s office and the General Assembly.

Mapes gets considerable ink. The report details his use of fear, intimidation and even physically threatening behavior to keep staff in line.

“People believed that Mr. Mapes attempted to motivate workers through fear and that a few other supervisors throughout the years emulated this practice,” Hickey wrote.

“Some people also raised the additional concern that, given Mr. Mapes’s political ties, he could make or break their careers outside of the Speaker’s Office as well.”

In this way, the report sketches a silhouette of Madigan’s power over Illinois.

Madigan is the only legislative leader in the nation who also serves as the state party chairman. He has chaired the Democratic Party of Illinois since 1998, longer than anyone else in state history. That means he controls policy and politics, so Mapes straddled both worlds, too. Mapes wasn’t just Madigan’s chief of staff. He was also clerk of the House of Representatives and executive director of the party organization.

One passage in the report sums up the problem with this arrangement: “[W]orkers said that the lines between the political and state sides can blur because their bosses are sometimes … lobbyists or other people who do not work for the Speaker’s Office.”

Government employees under Madigan’s watch were made to feel accountable to lobbyists, political campaign staff and other outside interests. Not the public.

Klitgaard’s formula begins to take shape.

Monopoly: Madigan’s political monopoly comes from his dual role as speaker and party chairman.

Discretion: With Madigan’s stamp of approval, Mapes had broad discretion over every aspect of Democratic political life in the state.

And then comes accountability. Or lack thereof.

Pritzker’s response to the investigation was embarrassingly vague. He criticized Mapes, but repeatedly dodged any questions of Madigan’s role. “Everybody in Springfield” was to blame for the culture described in Hickey’s report, he said.

Everybody?

Everybody in Springfield was equally to blame for behavior in the chamber where Madigan has presided as leader for 34 of the last 36 years?

Everybody in Springfield was equally to blame for behavior in the party organization Madigan has helmed for 21 years?

Everybody was equally to blame for Mapes’ behavior? Madigan’s highest-ranking lieutenant, who was the speaker’s chief of staff for 26 years?

Everybody bears some responsibility for their workplace culture. That’s obvious.

Surely the boss bears the most. And Pritzker, a leader, must make that clear.

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