CHICAGO (CBS) — Gov. Bruce Rauner said Friday he takes a hard line against the kind of sexual harassment outlined by female lawmakers and others who signed an open letter about such behavior in Springfield.
“I’m deeply, deeply troubled by the points, the accusations, the statements made in the letter; deeply troubled. We should have zero tolerance for sexual harassment of any type, in any circumstance,” Rauner said.
An open letter signed by 160 men and women – including state Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, political fundraiser Katelynd Duncan, and Sierra Club lobbyist Kady McFadden – has been circulating in Springfield, describing a culture of misogyny within the halls of the Statehouse.
“It looks like a male legislator — a chamber leader — asking a female staffer out to dinner under the guise of offering mentorship, then proceeding to explain his ‘open marriage’ to her and ask if she’s single,” the letter said.
Rauner said he’s had a zero tolerance policy about such behavior from the start. He said he issued an executive order early on, establishing a code of conduct and mandating training for all employees under his control.
“The letter doesn’t really change the dynamic. We’ve got to address this, along with all ethical behavior in government, but this issue of sexual harassment and sexual misconduct – for me – it’s a good thing that there’s more public overt addressing of the issue; coming out and shining a light on the problem. This is a good thing, long overdue,” he said.
The governor said he has not personally heard specific allegations of sexual misconduct, but said there must be an aggressive response to any harassment.