Rotheimer questions legislature's sexual harassment initiatives
Speaking out on the issue of sexual harassment in Springfield, Denise Rotheimer, Republican candidate for the 62nd House district, is asking questions about how lawmakers handle unethical behavior.
“What the focus should be on at this stage is: what is the process?” Rotheimer told the Lake County Gazette. “What can complainants expect?”
Rotheimer speaks from experience -- reports from the Chicago Sun-Times and other sources show Rotheimer has been active over the past year in asking for answers regarding her own sexual harassment allegations against Sen. Ira Silverstein (D-Chicago).
Since then, this and other cases have set off a firestorm of debate over how the state should handle sexual harassment and other kinds of ethics violations. House GOP leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) has proposed setting up a hotline to take complaints regarding sexual harassment related to state offices.
As late as last week, incoming Inspector General Julie Porter said she does not yet have access to all of the information about complaints that have been filed against legislators.
Explaining some of her questions to the Lake County Gazette on Nov. 9, Rotheimer insisted that there should be a clear and deliberate process for identifying complaints, dealing with them fully and notifying complainants.
While she conceded that a hotline could be a first step in tackling the problem, Rotheimer questioned the efficacy of the move.
“Does the hotline establish trust?” she said. “I think not.”
Her own complaint, she said, has been on the books for a year, and she still has not received answers. The inspector general, she said, has only a limited authority.
Rotheimer wants to know why complaints go before a board composed of legislators, saying there should be independent people on the board.
She also wants to see a concrete process set up to show how complaints are being handled.
‘What is ultimately going to result?” Rotheimer asked. “Who ultimately decides?”
Rotheimer is running in the 62nd district against Rep. Sam Yingling (D-Round Lake Beach).