Caulkins believes legal process has to run its course before people start losing pensions in Springfield
Dan Caulkins wants to see justice take its course in the widening sexual harassment scandal that shows no signs of letting up in Springfield.
“I think the proper process would be to prosecute those credibly accused, where they get their day in court, and we get to the bottom of everything,” he told the Chambana Sun. “Any elected official or government worker found guilty should then be stripped of all their pension and benefits, but that only comes after the law has run its course.”
Caulkins said he’s not a fan of the growing idea of just taking away the state pensions of those accused of harassment, at least not before the entire process has played out.
“In this country, we have a process in place for this,” he said. “If we just start taking benefits and pensions just because someone is accused, what’s to stop anyone from accusing someone else? We have to be willing to let the law do its job.”
Since the #MeToo movement hit Springfield, at least four close associates of House Speaker Mike Madigan (D-Chicago) have been ensnared in the probe.
Tim Mapes and Kevin Quinn were both forced to step down after being accused, while Sen. Ira Silverstein (D-Chicago) ceded his position on the Senate Democratic leadership team. Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie), Madigan’s No. 2 in Springfield, has also been similarly accused.
Mapes is the latest to go after fellow Madigan staffer Sherri Garrett stepped forward to accuse the longtime chief of staff of harassment and bullying.
No matter, the Chicago Tribune reports after 40 years in state government Mapes is still eligible to collect a pension of more than $135,000 per year with annual pension increases of 3 percent
During her primary run for governor, Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton) estimated that Quinn is in line for a $750,000 payout from state taxpayers after contributing roughly $26,000 to his pension over 17 years of service.
Meanwhile, Silverstein recently passed the 20-year threshold, making him eligible for a yearly payment of 85 percent of his final legislative salary. In 2017, around the same time local activist Denise Rotheimer went public with her allegations of harassment against him, his yearly salary totaled almost $88,500, according to the comptroller's office.
“With Mapes removal, I think we may have already started to change the culture,” said Caulkins, running against Democrat Jennifer McMillin for the seat being vacated by Rep. Bill Mitchell (R-Forsyth) in the 101st District. “Mapes was an enforcer, one of Madigan’s top guys who ran (the) House for him. You hear story after story about how he ran things and took retribution on those he felt offended or crossed by. I think the next time this happens Madigan will find himself in an even more difficult position. Hopefully, he will decide it’s not worth it and just walk away.”
Finally, Caulkins said Springfield has to function just as every other industry does in policing itself.
“People have to be held accountable,” he said. “That standard sends a message and brings about change. When you have leadership that has indulged in this kind of culture and failed to protect people that have worked for them, you have big problems. If you don’t discipline repeated misdeeds, they only grow worse.”