Governor: 'Failure' to address harassment must change

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WAND) – Gov. Bruce Rauner is condemning what he calls a “failure” of legislators to respond to sexual harassment allegations at the capitol.

He did not give a comment to reporters when asked about accusations of sexual harassment by someone who works in his office. He also did not say if Sen. Ira Silverstein should have resigned from the Senate when he faced sexual allegations, but did voice his displeasure with how the state has handled harassment issues.

“Let me say, this is a really fundamental failure – unconscionable – that the general assembly did not have a legislator inspector general for basically the last three years,” Rauner said. “(Given) how many complaints have gone unheard and undealt with, this is wrong. This is a failure and I’m glad they are taking initial steps, but we have a long way to go to fix the system.”

Legislators have worked on sexual harassment issues in early November. Two bills passed both chambers and became law, including HB 137 and SB 402.

HB 137 has removed limitations on complaints looked at by the Legislative Ethics Commission, meaning investigations into dozens of current outstanding complaints can continue. SB 402 opens the door for each inspector general to get a hearing process moving for any sexual harassment claim. It also requires every unit of government and state official to create a policy for dealing with harassment issues.

Democrats challenging Rauner for office, including JB Pritzger, Chris Kennedy and State Sen. Daniel Biss, have said they think Silverstein should resign from office.

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