SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - A first-term Republican state representative and member of an Illinois House anti-sexual harassment task force resigned Wednesday after an ex-girlfriend claimed that he posted nude photos of her on a fake social media account under her name.
Rep. Nick Sauer of Lake Barrington tendered a letter of resignation Wednesday afternoon to the House clerk's office.
The 35-year-old Sauer, elected in 2016 after serving more than a year on the Illinois Toll Highway Authority board as an appointee of Gov. Bruce Rauner, did not return phone, email or text messages seeking comment Wednesday.
Politico reported Wednesday that a Chicago woman claims that Sauer, a member of the House Sexual Harassment and Discrimination Task Force seeking election to a second term in November, set up a fake Instagram account with her name and posted explicit photos of her to bait other men into conversations with him. Politico said the woman filed complaints with Chicago police and the legislative inspector general.
Sauer wrote in his letter that he was stepping down "as a result of the allegations by ... a former girlfriend." He named the woman, but The Associated Press has a policy of not naming women who allege they are victims of sexual misconduct.
"My ability to fulfill my obligations as a state representative and public servant will be affected by the distraction of addressing these allegations," Sauer wrote.
House Minority Leader Jim Durkin immediately announced that Sauer would be relinquishing his seat. Asked at an event in Chicago, Rauner agreed that Sauer should resign.
According to Politico, the woman claimed she began a long-distance relationship with Sauer in 2016 after the two met on the dating app Tinder. She acknowledged sharing "very private photos" with Sauer before moving from California to Chicago in June 2017 to be nearer to him. The relationship ended in March 2018.
Politico reported that the woman alleges that Sauer used the photos to engage other men in online sexual conversations. The woman said she was contacted July 12 by a man she did not previously know who told her he had been communicating on social media for months with someone pretending to be the woman.
No charges have been filed against Sauer.
State law that took effect in June 2015 outlaws "revenge porn," or the posting of explicit photos without the consent of the photos' subject. Democratic Sen. Michael Hastings of Tinley Park sponsored the measure after researching ways to combat cyberbullying. It's a felony that carries a penalty of up to three years in prison and a $25,000 fine.
Sauer is part of the anti-sexual harassment panels formed last spring in both House and Senate to study ways to combat harassment and intimidation amid the resurgence of the #MeToo movement that spelled the downfall of prominent men in entertainment, politics and media and has so far touched only Democrats in the Capitol.
Sexual harassment allegations ended the career of Democratic Sen. Ira Silverstein of Chicago , who lost in the March Democratic primary, although the Legislative Inspector General found his conduct with a political activist inappropriate, but not harassment.
Allegations against campaign workers in House Speaker Michael Madigan's operation led to dismissals and calls for Madigan to step aside, and separate incidents forced Deputy Majority Leader Lou Lang, a Chicago Democrat, to resign his leadership position in May, and Madigan's long-time chief of staff and the House clerk, Timothy Mapes , to resign in June.
Sen. Melinda Bush, a Grayslake Democrat who sponsored legislation revamping the process by which the Legislative Inspector General investigates complaints , called for Sauer to step aside and commended Sauer's ex-girlfriend for coming forward.
"Women must have confidence that when they come forward with stories of abuse that the systems in place will hear them and believe them," Bush said in a prepared statement. "Without accountability there can be no change."