A high-ranking Democrat resigned from several leadership positions Thursday after being publicly accused of harassment, inappropriate behavior and retaliation by a former medical cannabis advocate.
State Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie, resigned from his position as House Deputy Majority Leader and left his spot on the Legislative Ethics Commission, which investigates wrongdoing by lawmakers, less than 24 hours after successfully pushing for approval of the federal Equal Rights Amendment. Lang called the allegations “absurd” and said he would seek another term in November at a news conference where he was surrounded by women lawmakers and lobbyists who attested to his good character.
Former medical cannabis advocate Maryann Loncar told reporters earlier Thursday afternoon at her own news conference that Lang, a close ally of powerful House Speaker Michael Madigan, verbally abused her, made unwanted advances and then retaliated against her.
Loncar said Lang, among other things, once placed his hand on her lower back below her underwear line and asked, “Does your husband know how lucky he is to have a wife like you?” She also said the Skokie Democrat called her one evening, telling her, “I would have dinner with you if you weren’t with your husband.”
When Loncar rebuffed Lang’s advances, she said Lang told her “to be careful.” Loncar said there are many witnesses to Lang’s inappropriate behavior.
“I was harassed. I was intimidated,” Loncar said. “I was humiliated and blackballed.”
Lang said he requested special Legislative Inspector General Julie Porter to look into the claims. The legislative inspector general must get permission from the Legislative Ethics Commission, of which Lang was a member until his resignation Thursday, to investigate.
During her news conference, Loncar made reference to an alleged bribe offer to Lang from businessmen seeking medical marijuana licenses. She said having that knowledge of the alleged bribe made her fear for her life. When asked why she hadn’t gone to the authorities about the potential crime, she said she was waiting for the right time but had the details journaled. She said others were also privy to the bribe offer.
An associate of Loncar’s later told Capitol Fax that Loncar mischaracterized the situation.
There are, however, reports of associates of Lang’s getting their foot in the door to acquire a number of the few licenses that were to be released. CBS St. Louis reported in 2014 that Sam Borek, Lang’s college roommate, reserved at least three-dozen marijuana-related business names.
At his own news conference, Lang dismissed the the claims.
“This is nothing,” he said. “The allegations are absurd. I’m running in November.”
State Sen. Sara Feigenholtz, D-Chicago, told reporters about Lang’s good character, but said the process for handling such complaints needs to change.
“The allegations we’ve heard today are very serious,” she said. “Hopefully the process will begin now.”
Feigenholtz was one of several Democratic women to stand behind Lang at his news conference.
At least one lawmaker took exception with Democrat lawmakers coming to bat for Lang before any investigation.
“This is how a culture of sexual harassment is perpetuated: turning a blind eye or standing by men even when they’re wrong,” said Rep. Avery Bourne, R-Raymond. “These allegations came out hours ago – demand an investigation. If he’s right, we’ll know. If he’s wrong, call it out and work to change the culture.”
Alaina Hampton, a former Madigan campaign worker who accused the House speaker of covering up her own harassment allegations against one of his lieutenants, said Lang’s news conference “was a perfect example of why victims don’t come forward.”
“To see so many Democratic women standing with and singing the praises of a powerful man, just hours after he was accused of harassment, in an effort to undermine his accuser, was truly disheartening,” Hampton said in a statement. “To the women who stood with Rep. Lang today – think about what message you sent to all of us who have been victimized by men in power in Springfield.”
Lang blasted Loncar as a disgruntled “profiteer” who was retaliating against him after her business failed to get a marijuana dispensary license. Loncar, who was president of Mother Earth Holistic Health and CEO of Patient’s Health Center, planned marijuana dispensaries that never got state approval.
While Lang said he initiated an investigation by the Legislative Inspector General into Loncar’s accusations, Loncar said she would not cooperate because she felt Porter’s investigation would likely only serve to vindicate Lang.
This story has been edited since initial publication. A previous version indicated that Lou Lang was the chair of the Legislative Ethics Commission before he resigned from it. State Sen. Terry Link is the chair. Lang was a member when he resigned. He previously had chaired the commission.
Article by Cole Lauterbach with Illinois News Network. For more INN News visit ILnews.org
Bourne, Manar, Murphy, and Scherer are going to the statehouse
With the final votes being tallied, we can announce the state representatives and senators for the Springfield area. State Senator Andy Manar (D-48) will hold onto his seat. Manar will be joined by Steve McClure (R-50) who will be taking over Sam McCann’s old district. Republican Bill Brady (44) ran unopposed.
In the House, Representatives Avery Bourne (R-95) and Sue Scherer (D-96) were both reelected. Mike Murphy (R) was elected in the 99th to replace outgoing Republican Sara Wojcicki Jimenez. Tim Butler (R-87) and C.D. Davidsmeyer (R-100) ran unopposed in the general election.
Many precincts still need to report, but it appears the Democrats have pulled off a clean sweep of the executive offices. But it remains to be seen if any of the third party candidates will break the five-percent threshold.
Illinois House candidate Herman Senor w/ Thomas Clatterbuck
In this episode of the Thomas Clatterbuck Show, we had Illinois House candidate Herman Senor. Senor is the Republican candidate in the 96th House district.
Senor currently serves as the Ward 2 Alderman in Springfield. He explained some of the state issues he has encountered on the city council. Regulations and new taxes from the state often make things difficult for municipalities. Over regulation also poses a problem for schools. Senor proposed making it easier for substitute teachers to gain teaching credentials or allowing retired teachers to come back could help alleviate the teacher shortage.
When it came to guns, Senor said that punishing law-abiding citizens was not the right way to curb gun violence. While bad actors should be punished, innocent people should not have their rights infringed. Similarly, he expressed an openness to both medical and recreational marijuana, but wanted strong oversight to ensure bad actors were not taking advantage of the system.
We touched on a number of other issues as well, including new taxes, shell bills, and fighting sexual harassment in the statehouse. You can watch our full interview in the player.
To learn more about Herman Senor, and the other candidates in the 96th, check out our Campaign Headquarters page.
You can see all the past episodes of the Thomas Clatterbuck Show on the Springfield Daily Shows page.
Anti-abortion group rescinds endorsement in Illinois governor race
A state senator is defending using money from pro-union groups to go after House Republicans, a move that cost him an endorsement from an anti-abortion group.
Just last week, Conservative Party gubernatorial candidate Sam McCann, who is a Republican state senator from Plainview, picked up the endorsement of Illinois Family Action for his anti-abortion position.
“With early voting for the November general election underway, we want to remind you how important it is to exercise your civic duty to vote and be good stewards of God’s amazing gift of self-government,” IFA Executive Director David Smith said in a video posted online Oct. 12. “McCann … share[s] our conservative Christian values and we urge you to support [him] when you cast your ballot.”
Then this week, McCann sent out mailers against an anti-abortion Republican calling him a “Rauner RINO,” or Republican in name only.
Smith said that triggered his board to decide to take back its endorsement, a first for the group.
“What Sam McCann is doing with this mailer is actually enabling a pro-abortion Democrat to get an upper hand on a pro-life incumbent state lawmaker,” Smith said.
With McCann getting big dollars from union interests, Smith said it’s clear to him McCann is more interested in fighting “right to work” candidates than supporting anti-abortion candidates.
“That’s what it really is about,” Smith said. “So we were misled. We were lied to. We were deceived.”
McCann dismissed Smith’s criticism, saying he’s 110 percent anti-abortion. He said it’s the House Republicans that are falling in line with incumbent Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, who McCann has called the state’s most liberal Democratic governor in history.
“Is it really about being conservative and leading or is it about being sheep and getting re-elected,” McCann said.
McCann this month alone has gotten $1.2 million from a group called Fight Back Fund that supports union politics. He said that’s money from a mix of people in unions who support his campaign.
State Rep. Jeanne Ives, R-Wheaton, said what McCann is doing with that union support is effectively working to give more power to Democrats, and, by extension, House Speaker Michael Madigan.
McCann said that’s not true.
“To use the governor’s term, that’s baloney,” McCann said. “What we’re doing is we’re calling people out.”
One of McCann’s targets, Palatine state Rep. Tom Morrison, said it’s imperative Republicans maintain and gain seats in the House to stop Madigan’s use of a supermajority. He said a supermajority would allow Democrats to push an agenda that’s wrong for Illinois.
McCann said Republicans and Smith are doing Rauner’s bidding.
Smith said IFA is now telling voters to support none of the above in the gubernatorial race.
Article by Greg Bishop, Illinois News Network. For more INN News visit ILnews.org
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