We, the boards of Illinois Democratic Women and the Chicago National Organization of Women, were shocked and horrified to read the WBEZ story about Springfield insider, Mike McClain, casually referring to a rape that happened in Champaign County in an email with former senior government officials. Since that story came out, we have been gratified to see many of our elected officials call for a proper investigation to be done in order to bring justice to this apparent criminal act.
In the last year and a half, we have seen the corrupt and toxic culture of Springfield that has harmed women revealed through subpoenas, lawsuits and those brave women who have come forward with their stories. While we are gratified by the work that has been done to begin to change that culture, namely by the women in the General Assembly, we feel strongly that this latest revelation cannot be swept under the rug and must be properly investigated by all relevant authorities.
Beyond there being a victim who may be suffering the pain of seeing their experience of sexual assault splashed across the news, there is a moral imperative to investigate this alleged crime and it’s cover up by those with tremendous political clout who are supposed to be doing the public good, not obstructing justice. We can no longer reward those who’ve worked to protect a toxic system that empowers corruption which hurts women and tolerates abuse. A system that empowers those who think they can nonchalantly dismiss the cover up of sexual assault in an email as Mike McClain did, is unethical and should be obsolete.
It is time to shine a bright light on why Mike McClain had so much political power in Springfield. McClain emailed two of the most senior officials in state government referencing rape and a coverup as well as ghost pay-rolling without fear of any negative consequence. McClain’s email is further evidence of unscrupulous behavior in our state capital which harms women and everyone who calls Illinois home. The women of Illinois will no longer tolerate this kind of abuse of power within our political system. McClain’s actions and those who have enabled him put our state’s future at risk. The time is up on this toxic culture in Springfield.
We are excited to share with you that it has been announced that both the Virginia Senate and House will vote their respective bills, SJ1 and HJ1, out of their chambers tomorrow. The bills will likely cross over for a final vote on Thursday! We are so proud to be able to witness and make history with you as partners in this movement.
We have been told that the votes will be around 12:00 pm.
If you are not able to be in Richmond in person, you can watch the livestream of the vote at the following links:
SB 193 says that the decision about whether a child stays in the home or not should be based solely on the best interest of the child standard, the facts, and what is going on in the home.
No decision should be colored by any perverse financial incentive to the contractor, either way. SB 193 prohibits all contractual or individual incentives. Period.
The second part of the new law requires the Division of Child Protection to review a random sample of investigations from the field to improve communication, create a system of checks, balances and accountability to assure the right decisions are being made and to implement necessary systemic reforms.
We can all improve workplace performance and I know DCFS is committed to doing that. SB193 is the legislatures way of weighing in on our expectations of the agency and helping them set a new course.
Hat tip to the Child Welfare Caucus— a mighty army committed to change.
Illinois Democratic Women applauds the efforts of the Illinois Anti-Harassment, Equality & Access Panel to provide a roadmap for all political parties and campaigns to address all types of harassment in the workplace. We are also grateful for their efforts to highlight the necessity of more women running for office in Illinois so that all our systems of government are equally represented by women and men.
By listening to women across this state tell their stories of discrimination and harassment in the political workplace, State Comptroller Susana Mendoza, State Senator Melinda Bush and State Representative Carol Ammons have created a report that leads the way to identifying necessary reforms that will mean more women have a seat at the table in making meaningful decisions that affect us all primarily by electing more women to office in Illinois and promoting more women to leadership positions.
The AHEA report asks that all parties –
Commit to a concrete goal of women filling 50% of the seats in Illinois’ General Assembly
Hire a manager-level Director of Diversity in the state parties to recruit more diverse candidates to run for elected office and for top-level staff positions
Invest party money in training women, developing their talent and supporting their races and promoting women into leadership positions in campaigns and political organizations
Require diversity in the pool of applicants or candidates considered for every political vacancy and leadership position (including people of color, LGBTQ, and people with disabilities)
Establish an Advisory Board to oversee these changes
Illinois Democratic Women stands ready to be a partner in these efforts and looks forward to the dialogue that this ground-breaking report will create as we look towards a future where women hold an equal number of political positions as men and the diversity of our leadership reflects all our communities.