Hammond called out for tax increase votes, protecting Silverstein from harassment allegations
State Rep. Norine Hammond (R-Macomb) is the target of a YouTube video that blasts her for siding with the Democrats in Springfield on July’s massive tax increase vote and protecting a Democratic senator accused of sexual harassment.
The video begins with a voice-over saying, “For Norine Hammond, the MeToo Movement means me and Chicago Democrats.” It then goes into her support of the 32 percent tax income increase and her protection of Chicago Democrat Ira Silverstein from allegations that he sexually harassed a lobbyist.
Hammond faces a primary challenge from Abingdon businessman Joshua Griffith.
The harassment allegations against Silverstein were leveled by Denise Rotheimer, who earlier this month filed a complaint against Hammond and the other seven members of the Legislative Ethics Commission for stymying an investigation into her charges by failing to appoint an interim Legislative Inspector General (LIG) as required by law. The LIG is authorized to investigate these kinds of allegations in the legislature; but as the post was vacant for nearly three years, no investigation of Rotheimer’s allegations, or some 26 other complaints, took place.
“It’s pretty clear that this was all about protecting each other when the complaints were filed,” Rotheimer said.
In November, the Ethics Commission appointed lawyer Julie Porter to the LIG position on an interim basis, but only after Rotheimer laid out the allegations against Silverstein in an emotional public hearing in Springfield on October 31. On January 3, Rotheimer filed the complaint against the commission with Porter.
“These sitting members allowed my complaint against Silverstein to go uninvestigated in violation of the law,” Rotheimer wrote in the complaint. “This is a prejudice that does not give me the confidence that any of them should sit on the commission and determine the outcome of the complaint I originally filed, which they swept under the rug. They protected Silverstein once even though they did so by violating the law and misleading the public by saying there were no 'cases.' I am filing a complaint against them and request that they follow the law and recuse themselves because they also must be investigated for nonfeasance in this matter as their wrongdoing and role in this injustice has directly caused me much to suffer.”
Rotheimer said that she didn’t expect much out of the complaint since the Ethics Commission has to OK any investigation by the LIG.
“There’s no reason they would agree to have themselves investigated,” she said.
Hammond did not return a call seeking comment on the video or on the complaint.
In the separate investigation – that of the harassment alleged by Rotheimer – Porter concluded late last week that Silverstein did not commit sexual harassment, but that he did violate the section of the Illinois Governmental Ethics Act known as the legislative code of conduct. Porter recommended that Silverstein receive counseling from the Senate’s ethics officer.
After the initial public allegations by Rotheimer in October, the Senate Democratic Caucus stripped Silverstein of his leadership position.