Illinois congressmen are asking the state’s attorney general to investigate allegations of a rape and cover up revealed in a 2012 email to a former governor’s staff.
WBEZ Chicago public radio reported this week on a 2012 email it obtained from former ComEd lobbyist Michael McClain to two staffers of then Gov. Pat Quinn. In the email, McClain vouches for a longtime state employee who was facing disciplinary action. McClain said the employee “kept his mouth shut” about an unspecified “rape in Champaign” and ghost payroll practices.
McClain, a former state lawmaker turned ComEd lobbyist, is a known confidant of House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago.
In a statement Friday, several Republican congressmen urged Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the alleged rape and coverup.
“These revelations are extremely troubling and a thorough independent investigation needs to happen immediately,” says a letter from U.S. Reps Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, Darin LaHood, R-Peoria, John Shimkus, R-Collinsville, Adam Kinzinger, R-Channahon, and Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro. “We are very concerned that the Champaign County State’s Attorney has determined she will not investigate this alleged crime. If these disturbing allegations, that were revealed this week, are true, there’s a victim out there that deserves justice and a criminal that should be prosecuted.”
“Given the unwillingness of the local state’s attorney to investigate this alleged crime and ties to the governor’s campaign, we believe a special prosecutor is warranted,” the statement said.
Raoul’s office didn’t immediately return a message seeking comment.
Champaign County State's Attorney Julia Rietz had indicated there wouldn't be an investigation but later told the Chicago Tribune she would be assisting the OEIG's investigation.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Thursday the email should have been investigated back in 2012. He said once he read the story this week, he referred the issue to the Office of Executive Inspector General, which could determine if law enforcement must get involved.
Illinois House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs, requested Madigan immediately convene a special House committee to investigate. Madigan responded that the governor confirmed the issue has been referred to the proper authorities. Durkin said House Republicans will continue to push for a separate investigation by the Legislature.
Illinois Senate Minority Leader Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, sent a letter to Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly requesting he conduct an investigation into the email.
Kelly said he will coordinate and support investigations and referrals for prosecution with the OEIG.
"The ISP and the OEIG are in communication and the ISP Division of Internal Investigations and/or the Division of Criminal Investigations will appropriately pursue any criminal aspects arising out of this investigation and dedicate whatever investigative resources are needed," Kelly said in a statement provided by ISP.
Meanwhile, the Illinois Law Enforcement Standards and Training Board confirms they have suspended a consulting contract with Forrest Ashby, the employee McClain was vouching for in the 2012 email.
“The Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board entered into a contract with Forrest Ashby on September 9, 2019 to perform consulting services related to revisions of correctional officer training protocols,” a statement from the LETSB says. “Upon learning of media accounts related to his prior employment and due to the seriousness of allegations, the Board moved to suspend Mr. Ashby’s contract on January 8, 2020, pending the outcome of an independent investigation. Mr. Ashby was engaged because of his prior work and expertise in the corrections field."