Alton, IL

Bill Would Ban Tax Dollars from Being Used to Settle Harassment Claims

Story by WBGZ Radio

In the wake of sexual harassment scandals sweeping the nation, an Illinois state representative’s bill banning tax dollars from being used to pay out settlements sailed through committee.


State Rep. David McSweeney’s House Bill 4243 would prohibit tax dollars from being used to settle harassment claims against state lawmakers.


McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills, said the stories out of the U.S. Congress, where millions of tax dollars went out to settle claims, are outrageous.


Click here for summary


“When you see examples of Republican and Democratic members of the House of Representatives using taxpayer money as hush money to silence sexual harassment claims, it’s wrong,” McSweeney said. “I want to be sure that doesn’t happen in Illinois.”


Earlier this year, news reports out of Capitol Hill showed since 1997, Congress paid out more than $17 million from a taxpayer fund to settle claims against members of Congress.


A specific incident McSweeney noted involved an adviser to U.S. Rep. Alcee L. Hastings, D-Florida, who received a secret settlement that was one of the largest payouts the Congressional Office of Compliance has ever paid.


McSweeney said he’s unaware of similar payouts in the Illinois legislature.


“I checked with staff,” McSweeney said. “They’ve stated there have not been examples here in Illinois yet, but I want to make sure it never happens. So this is an opportunity for Illinois to lead and not waste taxpayers’ money.”


He added: “This will prevent members from using their allowances to silence sexual harassment claims."


McSweeney said as more accusations are made against members of the General Assembly, lawmakers must make sure taxpayers aren’t paying for secret slush funds to protect legislators.


Following last fall’s open letter signed by hundreds of female legislators, lobbyists, and staff, one person was publicly accused of sexual harassment.


State Sen. Ira Silverstein, D-Chicago, was accused of harassment by an anti-violence advocate. That accusation revealed a nearly three-year vacancy in the Legislative Inspector General position that left two dozen allegations  collecting dust, including the accusations against Silverstein.


The LIG later released a report finding Silverstein acted inappropriately, but did not commit sexual harassment. The accuser, Denise Rotheimer, rebutted the report. She said the LIG didn’t have all the details. Rotheimer also is critical of the reporting process, saying the LIG needs more independence from the Legislative Ethics Commission, which it reports to.


Last month, Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan revealed nine cases of alleged wrongdoing within his office, but that list excluded an unknown number of complaints against lawmakers.


McSweeney’s measure passed committee last week with no debate and now heads to the House floor, but they’re not back until the second week of April. If it passes there, it would then go to the Illinois Senate for consideration.


(Copyright WBGZ Radio /


This site was created by
Copyright © 2018 Alton Daily News ยท WBGZ 1570 AM
227 Market St., Alton IL 62002 Phone: (618) 465-3535
EEO Report | Privacy Policy | Online Public File