New Report Highlights Harassment in Illinois Politics

A newly released report offers recommendations for how Illinois campaigns and government offices can eliminate harassment in the workplace.

The 37-page report is a result of the nonpartisan Anti-Harassment, Equality & Access Panel, made up of Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza, state Sen. Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake) and state Rep. Carol Ammons (D-Champaign).

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In July, the panel hosted listening sessions across the state for women who have worked on political campaigns in Illinois, regardless of party affiliation.

“There certainly was a common thread that ran through every one of the roundtables that we had,” said Bush. “Women have dealt with sexual harassment, and it hasn’t been handled well by either political party.”

The report recommends a clear avenue for victims to make a report, and an independent body to review and investigate all those claims.

“It happens too frequently to report,” reads one personal account mentioned in the report. “I want a career. I want to be invited into the room where things get decided, and you don’t get there by being a bad sport. I also didn’t think people would believe me, and even if they did, what’s the purpose of reporting something? Is anyone other than me going to feel the impact?”

Other recommendations include tying party funding and resources to campaigns that implement the report’s suggestions; providing anti-harassment training to everyone involved in campaigns; and creating policies for consensual romantic relationships and alcohol use.

“We will continue to work on the issue in all of our communities,” said Ammons. “We’re all dedicated to making sure there’s space for women in politics.”

Bush and Ammons join us in discussion.

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