CHICAGO (CBS) — A 28-year-old political consultant who accused a longtime aide to House Speaker Mike Madigan of sexual harassment accused the speaker’s office of a cover-up, and said the staffer, Kevin Quinn, never would have been fired if she hadn’t decided to go public with her story.
Alaina Hampton came forward Tuesday, a day after Madigan fired Quinn for “unwanted advances” and “inappropriate text messages” toward her, but she said she doesn’t believe the speaker would have done so if he hadn’t learned she was speaking to the Chicago Tribune about the harassment she suffered.
The longtime political consultant broke down saying she was traumatized by months and months of harassment Quinn, a top staffer in Madigan’s state offices and political organizations.
Hampton said Kevin Quinn, her immediate supervisor, sent her 75 text messages, repeatedly complimenting her appearance and asking her out on dates, but she turned him down and asked him to stop, but he wouldn’t.
She said she informed Quinn’s brother, Ald. Marty Quinn (13th) of the harassment a year ago. Marty Quinn is alderman of the same ward where Madigan has been Democratic committeeman for decades, and the two share office space in the 13th Ward, and are longtime political allies.
Calling Marty Quinn her mentor, Hampton said telling him about his brother’s harassment of her was the hardest thing she’s ever had to do.
“I didn’t want to tell him about the harassment, because I knew it would hurt him to know who was doing it to me, but I was suffering alone,” she said. “By the time I told Marty about the harassment, I was so terrified to be at the ward office, that I decided to leave, because I knew my perpetrator would not be fired, and I would have to continue to see him.”
In a statement Tuesday morning, Alderman Quinn said after Hampton approached her with the harassment allegations in February 2017, he confronted his brother.
“I immediately met with Kevin and told him to stop all communication with Ms. Hampton. I advised him that such behavior would not be tolerated, and that any further communication with Ms. Hampton would result in immediate termination. He was remorseful and acknowledged his poor judgment,” Alderman Quinn stated.
However, Hampton said Alderman Quinn refused to move his brother out of his supervisory role.
“I know you didn’t choose for this to happen, but you made the choice to protect Kevin instead of me. You’ve known about this for a year. You allowed people in the organization to believe that I betrayed you by quitting, even though I told you I was scared to be at the office,” she said to the alderman. “My loyalty and admiration for you was unmatched. I prided myself on being mentored under your wings since I was 23 years old. When I told you about your brother, I needed you to protect me. I didn’t feel safe. I knew telling you would risk everything I had worked for my entire career, and I was right.”
Hampton shared the texts Kevin Quinn sent her with the Chicago Tribune. The messages reveal Quinn’s repeated attempts to take Hampton out for drinks or dinner, and her repeatedly telling him she wasn’t interested and wanted to keep their relationship professional.
In one message, Quinn commented on a Facebook picture showing Hampton in a bikini, and said “You are smoking hot!”
Hampton said Kevin Quinn’s unwanted advances started in August 2016, and continued through February 2017, when she finally told his brother. She said she repeatedly asked Kevin Quinn to stop pursuing her.
“I asked him to stop seven times. It never stopped,” she said.
Madigan’s office has said Hampton informed the speaker of Kevin Quinn’s harassment in a letter in November 2017, and that Madigan had his attorney, Heather Wier-Vaught, conduct an investigation.
However, Hampton said Wier-Vaught’s investigation amounted to no more than an hourlong meeting with her at a coffee shop.
Hampton said Wier-Vaught – who also served as the ethics officer for the House Democratic Caucus – was dismissive of her claims, and told her Quinn’s actions did not amount to workplace sexual harassment, because “I wasn’t technically an employee.”
“That was a lie. My harasser and I were both paid employees during the time of the harassment. I was paid by the Democratic majority four times, and by Friends of Michael J. Madigan once,” Hampton said.
She also accused Wier-Vaught of jokingly accusing her of raising the allegations in an effort to get money and media attention.
“She jokingly said if you came here for $25,000 and a front page story on the Chicago Tribune, I will hand the text messages to a reporter at the Tribune myself,” Hampton said. “I told her I would never come and ask her for money. I told her I didn’t want to talk to the media.”
Hampton said she only wanted to make sure steps were taken to ensure Kevin Quinn would not sexually harass any other women. However, she said she “absolutely” doesn’t believe Madigan would have fired Kevin Quinn over the harassment until he learned she planned to go public. She noted Madigan has had Quinn’s text messages since February, but didn’t fire him until she started talking to the Chicago Tribune in February.
“The speaker has had the letter for three months. It doesn’t take three months to read those text messages and know that that behavior was inappropriate. It would take all of 20 minutes,” she said.
Hampton’s attorneys said, because of when Quinn’s text messages to her stopped, the statute of limitations has expired for her to file a sexual harassment complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, but she has filed a complaint accusing Madigan’s political committees of discriminating against her in retaliation for her complaints about Quinn’s behavior.
She said she believes Madigan’s committees prevented her from advancing any further in the political organizations because she accused Kevin Quinn of sexual harassment.
Alderman Quinn said he didn’t take any further action after speaking to Hampton last year, such as notifying Madigan about her claims, because he wanted to protect Hampton’s privacy.
“I thought I took swift action and handled the matter as she requested,” he stated. “After Ms. Hampton advised the Speaker and the investigation was conducted, I realized the extent of the text messages and the nature of the conduct. Although the investigation found that the text messages had ceased immediately at my direction, the Speaker and I discussed the full extent of the situation and decided Kevin should no longer be affiliated with the political organization. I asked for Kevin’s resignation. The Speaker accepted his resignation from the political organization and the State office.”
Kevin Quinn worked both as a state worker and a campaign staffer for Madigan’s various political committees – including Friends of Michael J. Madigan and the Democratic Party of Illinois – moving from his state job to a campaign job during election season, and back to the state payroll after elections. He was paid a rate of $104,000 a year at his state job, and earned approximately $72,000 through the political funds last year.
Hampton said she knows of other women who have notified Wier-Vaught of sexual harassment committed by members of Madigan’s staff, but she declined to discuss details. She said none of those cases involved Kevin Quinn.