SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WTVO) — House Speaker Mike Madigan released a statement on Wednesday denying knowledge of an alleged rape which a close friend and former lobbyist mentioned in a recently uncovered 2012 email.
According to WBEZ, in a email obtained by the outlet, ex-lobbyist Michael McClain, a close friend of Madigan’s, urged aides to then-Gov. Pat Quinn to avoid firing a state worker who “kept his mouth shut” about “the rape in Champaign and other items.”
McClain’s letter to Gov. Quinn’s legislative affairs liaison, Gary Hannig, on behalf of state worker Forrest Ashby, says, “This man is a good compliance person, as I told you. The AG’s office and the Sheriff’s love working with him. He has kept his mouth shut on Jones’ ghost workers, the rape in Champaign and other items. He is loyal to the Administration.”
WBEZ reports Gov. JB Pritzker called the email’s contents “horrific.”
Ashby had been working as an administrator at the Illinois Department of Human Services facility in Rushville, which houses sexually violent prisoners and inmated deemed to be a public risk.
According to McClain’s email, Ashby was due to appear at a disciplinary hearing for what McClain characterized as minor offenses, and asked Hannig to protect Ashby’s job, WBEZ reported.
Ashby, who left the state payroll in 2018, became a $5,000 a month consultant on Pritzker’s campaign for governor.
Prizker’s campaign said McClain recommended Ashby for the job.
Ashby is currently working as a consultant with the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board.
In a statement issued Wednesday, Madigan said, “These are extremely serious and troubling allegations. I had no knowledge of the incident referenced in the story and only learned of this today. I encourage those with any information to come forward. ”
Former Gov. Quinn reportedly told WBEZ that he did not know Ashby or anything about a disciplinary case against him.
A spokesperson for Gov. Pritzker said his office learned of the email through WBEZ’s investigation.
“The administration’s general counsel referred this email to the appropriate investigatory authority, who will make a determination about what next steps can be taken,” Pritzker spokeswoman Emily Bittner said. “The governor’s expectation is that all state employees will meet the highest ethical standards for their conduct, and anyone who does not meet that standard will be disciplined to the full extent of the law.”
McClain is currently a part of an ongoing federal investigation into his former client, Commonweath Edison, and the company’s efforts to win rate increases in Springfield, WBEZ reports.
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