New Inspector General Aims To Clear Ethics Backlog

CHICAGO (CBS) — The woman tasked with cleaning up sex harassment in Springfield is anxious to get to work.

Julie Porter, who sent former Sun-Times publisher Conrad Black to prison as the fed’s top criminal prosecutor in Chicago, is now charged with clearing a backlog of 27 ethics complaints in Springfield.

CBS 2’s Derrick Blakley spoke to the Chicago attorney, who’s been designated as the new temporary legislative inspector general.

“Do you have any idea how many of those complaints might involve sexual harassment?” Blakley asked.

“No. All I know is what I read in the news,” Porter responded. “I expect there will be at least one that deals with sexual harassment.”

That’s the complaint from victims rights advocate Denise Rotheimer, who alleged last week that State Sen. Ira Silverstein harassed her for 18 months. Her complaint, however, only gathered dust in the inspector general’s office, which sat empty for years.

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“The problem that exists when an office like this has been vacant for so long is this notion that people’s voices are not being heard,” Porter said.

Earlier Monday, Gov. Bruce Rauner essentially blamed Democrats for ignoring sexual harassment.

“I did an executive order almost two years ago to outline a code of personal conduct,” he said. “So we’ve taken action, and I’m glad the legislature is finally starting to take action, as well.”

Since Democrats control the legislature, Rauner’s comments can be taken to mean that it’s Senate President John Cullerton and House Speaker Mike Madigan who are finally taking action.

Meanwhile, Porter promised to pull no punches.

“The fact that they have chosen me I hope means the state wants and is ready for an independent inspector general who will take it and call it like I see it.”

While Porter’s temporary assignment runs through next June, she didn’t rule out accepting the job for a longer period.

Tuesday, hearings begin in Springfield on Madigan’s bill to require sexual harassment training for both legislators and their staffers. Furthermore, House Republican Leader Jim Durkin wants to create a sexual harassment hotline for reporting abuse.

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