Delay. Deflect. Defer.
Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan has successfully utilized his three-pillar strategy to protect his allies and maintain the status quo at any cost numerous times in the past.
Worst-funded pensions in the country. Overly burdensome property taxes. Highest workers' compensation costs in the Midwest.
Pretend you care about the issues. Say you've got people working on them. Blame others for a lack of progress.
Delay. Deflect. Defer.
Usually, the victims of Madigan's 3-D strategy are his political opponents, business owners and operators, and the state's taxpayers, who are crushed by the never-ending cycle of tax more and spend more so Madigan can keep his union and lawyer friends happy and himself in power.
This time, sadly, the victim is a young woman who, text messages show, had been repeatedly harassed by one of the speaker's political operatives while she was just trying to help his cause.
Alaina Hampton bravely stepped into the spotlight this week and accused Madigan of covering up her sexual harassment claims against Kevin Quinn, a longtime Madigan crony and the brother of Chicago Alderman Marty Quinn, who represents the House speaker's 13th Ward on the Chicago City Council.
Hampton was a contract employee for the state's Democratic Party, of which Madigan is chairman, and the Friends of Michael J. Madigan political operation when Kevin Quinn, her supervisor, began stalking her mostly via text messages.
Hampton repeatedly asked him to stop, but the texts continued for months:
"So on your Facebook page, I think, there is a picture of you in a bikini."
"You are smoking hot!"
"Do you have a boyfriend?"
"Why do you not like me again?"
"U will not even permit me to buy you a beer?"
"Why just a professional relationship?
"I will not brag or flaunt. But I am the best dude you will meet."
Despite Hampton's objections, the texts continued until she brought her complaints to Alderman Marty Quinn in February 2017.
If that's not sad enough — a young woman felt her only recourse was to complain to her stalker's brother — nothing was done to Kevin Quinn. In order for Hampton to continue working for Madigan's operation, she'd have to continue to work with her harasser.
Hampton said she asked to be reassigned to work a specific district campaign so she could avoid the torment. She was told the party wasn't helping in that district but soon found out she was lied to. Someone else was assigned to work it.
She felt she was being retaliated against, so she quit.
"I know you didn’t choose for this to happen, but you made the choice to protect Kevin instead of me," Hampton said Tuesday, referring to Marty Quinn. "You’ve known about this for a year. You allowed people in the organization to believe that I betrayed you by quitting, even though I told you I was scared to be at the office.”
Months went by and Kevin Quinn kept his job as Hampton suffered from the mental and emotional scars.
In November, in the middle of the #MeToo movement that swept the country and the Illinois statehouse, Hampton sent a letter to Madigan's home address detailing her complaints.
Madigan couldn't ignore it now, not as so much media attention was focused on the brewing sexual harassment scandal at the Capitol.
But he could delay, deflect, defer.
Madigan asked his attorney, Heather Wier Vaught, to investigate.
Hampton said she and Wier Vaught met for about an hour over coffee. During that time, Hampton said Wier Vaught was dismissive of her complaint. She wasn't harassed because Hampton wasn't really an employee, Hampton said she was told.
“She jokingly told me that if I came to ask her for $25,000 and a front page story on the Chicago Tribune, that she would hand the text messages to a reporter at the Tribune herself,” Hampton said.
Hampton didn't want money and she didn't want to talk to the media. She wanted to make sure Kevin Quinn wouldn't harass anyone else the way she had been harassed.
Two months went by and Hampton said she'd heard nothing.
Delay, deflect, defer.
“They thought that I was too loyal to ever come forward,” Hampton said.
They were wrong. Hampton filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and decided to take her story to the Chicago Tribune. On Monday, hours before the Tribune was set to publish the story, Madigan sent out a pre-emptive news release saying Kevin Quinn had been fired.
Hampton believes that Quinn never would have been fired if she hadn't gone to the media.
At a news conference responding to Hampton's claims, Madigan deflected most questions to Wier Vaught, his attorney. The only question he answered directly was about calls for him by a few to step down as speaker and chairman of the Democratic Party.
He won't. How could he, he deflected, when he's the only one preventing Republican Bruce Rauner from implementing his "radical conservative agenda."
Hampton says she knows of other women who worked for the Illinois House who filed sexual harassment complaints while Wier Vaught was its ethics officer. Were those claims delayed, deflected and deferred, too? And will more victims come forward?
Madigan's 3-D strategy has been effective in keeping him in power for more than 30 years, but it's not leadership.
Could the #MeToo movement be the catalyst that brings down the longest-serving state House speaker in U.S. history? The coming days and weeks will be telling.