House aspirant accuses Democrats of ignoring harassment accusations for years
Dan Ugaste only grew angrier about the long lack of a legislative inspector general when he heard a rumor about the reason.
“Dem leadership should have made sure that post was filled a long time ago,” Ugaste told the Kane County Reporter. “I’ve heard it hasn’t been filled since the last inspector general came out with a scathing report criticizing (House Speaker Mike) Madigan over political patronage. If that’s the reason, this is even more unforgivable.”
Until Nov. 4, when attorney Julie Porter was appointed, the inspector general post was vacant for almost three years. The job requires reviewing all reports of sexual harassment in Springfield, but more than two dozen such complaints are rumored to have gone unchecked because of the vacancy.
Ugaste, who is running to replace retiring Rep. Steve Andersson (R-Geneva) in the 65th District, said most of the blame for the dereliction of duty falls on the shoulders of Democrats.
“They control both the House and the Senate, so they’re the ones making the decisions,” he said. “If Republicans had a lot of say in Springfield, I think we would have a lot more business reforms than we do. We desperately have to change the culture down there.”
Rep. Jim Durkin (R-Western Spring) introduced legislation calling for the creation of a hotline to further deal with harassment complaints. Durkin contends the hotline would create a “safe outlet” for victims in need of counseling, protective services or assistance at any point in the process of filing a complaint.
After Madigan introduced legislation mandating sensitivity training for all lawmakers, political activist Denise Rotheimer went before the House to tell her story of alleged harassment by Sen. Ira Silverstein (D-Chicago), who has since resigned from the Democratic Leadership Committee.
“This is the kind of thing that has me so committed to Springfield,” Ugaste said. “Government definitely needs to be more responsible and accountable to the people it’s supposed to be serving,” he said.
The 65th District includes Batavia, Geneva, St. Charles, Pingree Grove, Gilberts, Wayne, Elgin, South Elgin, Hampshire and Huntley.