Madigan’s legal team asks judge to toss sexual harassment lawsuit by former campaign worker

House Speaker Michael Madigan’s legal team on Tuesday asked a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit brought by a former campaign worker who alleged she lost a chance to move up in the powerful Democratic leader’s political organization because she reported that a top aide sexually harassed her.

The request was made as part of a court filing in which the Madigan-chaired Democratic Party of Illinois denied a series of allegations brought by Alaina Hampton. She contends she was retaliated against after she lodged complaints that Madigan lieutenant Kevin Quinn harassed her through phone calls and inappropriate texts.

In February, Madigan cut loose Quinn, brother of 13th Ward Ald. Marty Quinn, from roles in the speaker’s political and state government positions. Madigan had received a letter from Hampton in November, and has said he asked his longtime legal counsel to review the allegations.

Hampton has said it took the speaker’s political operation too long to act. She has said she first went to Ald. Quinn about his brother in February 2017, but noted the firing didn’t happen until a year later. Hampton also has acknowledged the alderman called her after they met and told her that his brother would not be in contact with her.

As Hampton prepared to take legal action, Madigan issued a press release Feb. 12 stating that Quinn had been forced out of the organization, calling Hampton “courageous” and acknowledging Quinn’s inappropriate behavior. The release also came less than 24 hours after Hampton met with a Chicago Tribune reporter and provided explicit texts that Quinn sent her, including one calling her “smoking hot.”

In the Tuesday response to the suit, Madigan’s legal team contended Hampton had failed to establish that an “employment relationship existed” between her and the party during the “relevant time period.” Hampton has said she was harassed by Kevin Quinn during the 2016 campaign season and up through the time she spoke to Ald. Quinn in February 2017.

The speaker’s lawyers said Hampton was paid for limited time periods in 2012 from a political fund controlled by Madigan’s House Democrats, for a time in 2014 from the speaker’s own political fund, and again in 2016 from both of the funds.

Hampton has sued the state Democratic Party and three Madigan-controlled campaign funds. She has maintained she attempted to work for a House Democratic campaign this year but was rebuffed, a move that she said stymied her career. But Democrats denied that allegation, as well as Hampton’s charges of discriminatory or retaliatory conduct.

The speaker’s court filing came hours after Kevin Quinn was convicted of violating an order of protection and sentenced to a year of court supervision and ordered to perform 50 hours of community service.

Cook County Judge Elizabeth Hayes found that in February, Kevin Quinn called and sent a text message to his estranged wife despite a ruling that limited him to communicating only through a court-supervised app called “Talking Parents.”

Attorney Joshua Herman said Quinn was trying to contact his wife to give her as much warning as possible about his firing over the sexual harassment allegations so that she could shield their sons from the news coverage about the issue. But Hayes said it was “clear” Quinn violated the order of protection and could have used the app.

The strict limitations on Quinn communicating with Sarah McKay were put in place in January after he pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct stemming from a domestic incident involving her last July.

Tuesday’s ruling could have repercussions for Quinn, who is expected to appear Wednesday before the judge who approved the order of protection as part of the guilty plea in the disorderly conduct case. If that judge finds Quinn violated the conditions of his court supervision in that case, he could face stiffer penalties.

Quinn apologized to McKay and their children during his sentencing Tuesday. His attorney told the court Quinn is looking for another job, but is having trouble because of the recent publicity.

“I’m sorry this happened,” Quinn told the judge. “I’m sorry to my two sons. I’m sorry to Miss McKay. I just want to move on with my life.”

rlong@chicagotribune.com

sstclair@chicagotribune.com

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