Biss demands Speaker Madigan resign as chairman of Illinois Democratic party

House Speaker Mike Madigan says he will "cooperate fully" with an investigation of sexual harassment in Springfield.

The speaker has fired two key staffers from his political organization in the last week. Both faced complaints of inappropriate behavior toward women.

A rare rebellion among top Illinois Democrats appears to be growing. Evanston’s Sen. Daniel Biss, running for governor in next month's primary, is demanding House Speaker Michael Madigan resign as chairman of the state Democratic party.

Chicago Rep. Kelly Cassidy won't go that far, but she's demanding an independent investigation of harassment accusations against Madigan’s veteran operatives, as well as other sexual abuse in Springfield.

“It really has reached the point where we really do need to get -- you know, rip off the bandaid! See what's underneath it. Figure out what we need to fix,” she said.

Last week, Madigan dumped Kevin Quinn from his powerful political organization. Quinn’s been arrested twice in recent months.

In one case police say he violated a woman's order of protection, and on Monday, Madigan dumped Shaw Decremer, a veteran campaign worker who used his relationship with Madigan to become a lobbyist for deep-pocket clients, including ComEd, DISH Network and the Electrical Workers Union 134. It's alleged Decremer verbally abused a female candidate for state representative.

“What we haven't seen is other leaders of the Democratic party coming forward and asking him, the speaker, to at least step aside for now, so we can do an investigation to find out who knew what and when,” said Lorna Brett, a client preparing to sue Madigan.

Republicans have long dreamed of ousting Madigan, first elected Speaker in 1983. Insurgent GOP candidate for governor Jeanne Ives called on Madigan to resign. Democrat Cassidy said any investigation of harassment should include Gov. Rauner's staff.

“This happens everywhere. There were concerns raised about issues of abuse within the counsel's office, the governor's counsel, and what led to his departure,” Cassidy said.

Madigan’s hired employment attorney Kelly Haley-Smith to "assist" a review of sexual misconduct in state government. Her law firm has ties to Madigan and it appears likely others will also eventually be involved.

Governor Rauner took to social media Tuesday to post a hotline number for state workers to call if they see or experience sexual harassment. It's 1-877-236-7703, staffed Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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