North Side State Sen. Ira Silverstein Accused of Sexual Harassment
CHICAGO - A state lobbyist said Tuesday during a hearing on sexual harassment in Illinois politics that she had been repeatedly harassed by North Side state Sen. Ira Silverstein and required medical attention to cope with its impact. Silverstein, a Democrat who represents parts of Edgebrook, Forest Glen, North Park and West Ridge, denied the allegations in a series of media interviews.
Here's an excerpt from the 50th Ward Follies blog that explains why this incident of alleged harassment dramatizes a broader problem:
"There are many troubling aspects to this story, not least of which is the inaction of State Senate President Cullerton, who knowingly referred the matter to the office of a legislative inspector general who doesn’t exist as well as to an ethics panel that has done nothing about the charges for a year. Ira has been aware since 2016 that a complaint was filed against him. It’s been one of the best-kept political secrets in Springfield and Chicago, proof that the Old Boys Network has gone underground, but hasn’t gone away.
"The corruption that has so permeated every level of government in Illinois shows its ugly face here, too. Sexual harassment is so pervasive in Illinois government that legislators are rushing to amend the state’s ethics and lobbyists’ ordinances to include prohibitions against it.
"Unfortunately, the bill as proposed is weak, merely requiring that each state officer, legislator, and agency establish an anti-harassment policy and imposing $5,000 fines on state employees and lobbyists found guilty of such harassment. Those not taking anti-harassment training will have their names published.
"Imagine trying to shame an Illinois politician or lobbyist by telling the public that he doesn’t follow the rules!"