The fall out from the revelations of a 2012 email sent by Michael McClain to former Governor Pat Quinn’s office resonated through the state yesterday. WBEZ first reported Tuesday night of an email obtained through FOIA requests in Governor J.B. Pritzker’s office that outlined the cover up of ghost workers in the Illinois Department of Human Services as well as an alleged rape in Champaign.
McClain asked Quinn’s office to intervene on the behalf of Forrest Ashby, an administrative assistant at the Human Service’s Detention Facility in Rushville at the time, so he could keep his job after an undisclosed employment incident because of his silence about the cover ups.
Illinois House Minority Leader Jim Durkin expressed outrage at the findings yesterday at the Statehouse calling it “one of the most disturbing and shocking set of facts” he’s ever seen and called for accountability. “What society allows that to happen? It’s extremely disturbing, but it casts a shadow upon Springfield that has been brought upon by the power brokers that have existed down there for the past many decades who have controlled the legislative process and the passage of bills.” Durkin expressed anger at the fact that Ashby was still working for the State of Illinois. Ashby currently has a $40-an-hour consulting contract with the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board and worked for Pritzker’s 2018 gubernatorial campaign as a political consultant in Central and Southern Illinois.
The Illinois Senate Women’s Caucus, among others, called for a criminal investigation of the issues contained in the email. Rep. Kelly Cassidy, a Chicago Democrat, asserted on Twitter that McClain still holds sway over House Speaker Michael Madigan. Madigan and McClain have been close associates for over 40 years. Cassidy, as well as Alaina Hampton and Sherri Garrett — both of whom made allegations of sexual harassment against top Madigan lieutenants which led to the staffers’ ouster — issued a joint statement regarding the report Wednesday calling for Champaign County State’s Attorney Julie Reitz and the U.S. Attorney’s Office to impanel a grand jury.
Hampton, a Pleasant Plains native and political consultant, recently reached a settlement agreement with Madigan’s political campaign and three other Democratic Party organizations in the state regarding allegations of sexual harassment from Kevin Quinn, one of Madigan’s top political aides. Garrett’s harassment complaints against Tim Mapes, Madigan’s chief of staff at the time, eventually led to his ouster from the position as well as his role as Illinois House clerk and Democratic Party of Illinois’ executive director.
In a statement released by Madigan’s office yesterday in light of the emails, Madigan said he had no knowledge of the incidents in question and asked that anyone with any information to come forward to help investigators.