CHICAGO (CBS) — A yearlong probe into bullying and sexual harassment in Illinois politics found Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan’s former chief of staff, Timothy Mapes, used fear and intimidation as management tactics, to the point subordinates avoided raising concerns, believing he wouldn’t take them seriously.
As CBS 2’s Tim McNicholas reported Tuesday, House Speaker Michael Madigan requested the probe last year from an attorney and former federal prosecutor.
“People believed that Mr. Mapes attempted to motivate workers through fear and that a few other supervisors throughout the years emulated this practice. 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,” the 200-page report on the probe stated.
The independent review by former state Inspector General Maggie Hickey included interviews with more than 100 people who work for the Illinois House, including employees of the speaker’s office and the House Clerk’s office.
“The vast majority said that they would not have reported misconduct under the previous Chief of Staff Timothy Mapes, for various reasons detailed in this report,” Hickey’s report stated.
Mapes, who also served as Clerk of the House, and executive director of the Democratic Party of Illinois – which Madigan chairs – was fired from his government and political roles last year, after an aide in the speaker’s office accused him of sexual harassment and bullying.
Sherri Garrett, an account technician and minutes clerk in the speaker’s office, came forward last summer with claims that Mapes made repeated inappropriate comments and failed to take allegations of sexual harassment by others seriously.
“I have always loved my job, but it is hard to love it,” Garrett said at the time. “It is hard to love it when you don’t know what’s going to happen next.”
Garrett listed a string of encounters with Mapes in which he either allegedly harassed her, or made light of sexual harassment claims made by her colleagues.
Hickey’s report confirmed Mapes failed to do his job when Garrett came to him with allegations of sexual harassment.
“Ms. Garrett brought a concern about sexual harassment to Mr. Mapes, and he dismissed her concern and then ridiculed her for raising it,” the report stated.
The report found that Mapes “unequivocally violated the Speaker’s Policies when he dismissed and mocked Ms. Garrett for coming forward with her serious concerns about potential sexual harassment.”
Mapes wound up resigning just hours after Garrett’s news conference last summer.
Hickey’s report also found Mapes used fear to motivate workers to such a degree that they avoided raising concerns to him, and wouldn’t even approach Speaker Madigan with complaints about Mapes.
“Whether he intended it or not, many workers said that Mr. Mapes caused them to believe that they were easily replaceable, and therefore, they made sure not to make waves, even if they would have had workplace harassment concerns that they believed warranted attention,” the report stated.
Mapes late Tuesday sent CBS 2 a statement saying in part, “If my demeanor or my approach to my job did not instill trust and a healthy work environment, I apologize.”
After Mapes’ ouster, Madigan’s office hired Hickey, the state’s former executive inspector general and a former federal prosecutor, to review the operations of the Illinois House; including within the speaker’s office, and the House Clerk’s office.
The 53-year-old Hickey’s contract with the House paid $500 per hour. Hickey was inspector general over the governor’s office for 2 1/2 years before joining a private Chicago law firm.
To date, Hickey’s law firm has billed the state more than $640,000.
While Mapes bore the brunt of the criticism in Hickey’s report, her review noted bullying and harassment were not limited to Madigan’s office, or House Democrats in general.
“People from across the Capitol workplace reported that they had witnessed or personally experienced what they described as inappropriate sexual conduct in the Capitol workplace. They described conduct that included inappropriate sexual comments and unwelcome sexual advances,” the report stated.
In particular, Hickey investigated a state worker’s harassment allegations against Mapes, retaliation claims by state Rep. Kelly Cassidy, and a lobbyist’s sexual harassment claims against former Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie).
Hickey’s report found insufficient evidence that Lang, a longtime Madigan ally, sexually harassed and bullied lobbyist Maryann Loncar, who claimed Lang had tried to seduce her, then tried to crush her when she opposed his position on medical marijuana.
In September, legislative Inspector General Julie Porter also cleared Lang, stating there was insufficient proof that he harassed or intimidated Maryann Loncar.
Loncar did not cooperate with Hickey’s investigation.
Lang retired earlier this year after winning re-election in November, and had claimed Loncar was disgruntled after not receiving a cannabis dispensary license for her company.
Hickey’s report also found insufficient evidence that Madigan, Mapes and state Rep. Bob Rita (D-Blue Island) retaliated against state Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago) for criticizing how the speaker’s office handled sexual harassment allegations against his staff. Cassidy had claimed she was pressured to resign from a part-time job with the Cook County Sheriff’s office.
While the report did not find sufficient evidence to back up Cassidy’s and Loncar’s claims, it also noted there was insufficient evidence that either of them made false allegations.
Hickey’s report acknowledged Madigan’s office has taken steps to address the issue of harassment and bullying at the capitol, including anti-harassment training in 2018 and 2019. But the report made clear more needs to be done.
“Based on Ms. Hickey’s recommendations and best practices, we will take additional steps to address concerns raised in the report. I am grateful to learn from the report that many believe the culture has improved, but thereis more work to be done within the Capitol as a whole, and I am ready to work with all of the caucuses,” Madigan stated in response to the report.
“The bottom line is that discrimination and harassment will not be tolerated within the Capitol. Working together we can and will create a better workplace environment for all,” Madigan added.