AUG 25, 2023
Tim Mapes, ousted for sexual harassment, guilty of lying to cover for Madigan
The Dirksen federal courthouse in Chicago.
Former Speaker Mike Madigan’s chief of staff and former executive director of the Democratic Party of Illinois Tim Mapes was found guilty by a jury in federal court on Thursday of lying to a grand jury investigating Madigan.
Mapes was found guilty of obstruction of justice and perjury after five hours of jury deliberation. After serving as Madigan’s right hand for over two decades, Mapes now faces up to 20 years in prison for the obstruction charge.
Mapes testified in front of a grand jury investigating Madigan in March 2021, according to prosecutors. Jurors found Mapes gave misleading statements to the grand jury when pressed about Madigan’s relationship with lobbyist Mike McClain, who was convicted on multiple corruption charges in May for illegally attempting to influence Madigan.
Mapes’ troubles date back further than the 2021 grand jury interview, however. When the “Me Too” movement hit the House in 2018, Mapes was at the center of it all. Accusations against him by House Democrats’ staffer Sherri Garrett forced him to resign his job as chief of staff in the House and executive director of the party.
In a statement, Garrett said she felt “relief” from the verdict, especially on behalf of other staffers who were intimidated from speaking out about sexual harassment they experienced from Mapes.
“Through the course of this trial, we’ve learned about the ways that Mr. Mapes and the rest of the inner circle of that organization worked to discredit those of us who were speaking out about our toxic work environment,” Garrett said.
An independent investigation into Mapes and the speaker’s office that was released in 2019 blasted Mapes, characterizing him as a bully who threatened staffers’ jobs and burst out in fits of rage.
“It was particularly common for people to say that Mr. Mapes either yelled at them or threatened their jobs,” the report by attorney Maggie Hickey stated. “Many of the people who said that Mr. Mapes did not yell at them or threaten their jobs said that they were told by their coworkers that it was only a matter of time before they had their ‘Tim moment.’”
Mapes resigned from the House in June 2018, hours after Garrett came forward with accusations that Mapes dismissed her concerns about other issues of sexual harassment and used his own sexual remarks toward her.
Mapes was also at the top of the leadership chain for another sexual harassment accusation in his capacity with the state party. Alaina Hampton, a staff member of the party, accused Kevin Quinn, brother of Chicago Ald. Marty Quinn (13), of sexual harassment in a high-profile case that added to the pressure from the Me Too movement felt in Madigan’s office.
“Through these court proceedings, we have all had the chance to read the transcripts and listen to the recorded phone calls of Mapes and his closest colleagues strategizing in their efforts to undermine the Me Too movement in Illinois,” Hampton said in a statement. “None of it comes as a surprise.”
Mapes’ trial featured evidence from prosecutors used to demonstrate Mapes’ strong relationship with McClain that he lied to the grand jury about. The evidence including emails and phone transcripts also shed light on how Madigan’s office reacted to the Me Too movement.
In one email sent by McClain to Mapes and others, McClain suggested Madigan’s team respond to Hampton’s accusations with “hardball” and by pitching other sexual harassment stories to the media that would take heat off Madigan’s office.
Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago), who had her own problems with harassment in the House under Mapes, was also featured in the trial. In a phone call between McClain and Mapes in 2018, McClain suggested that Hickey would call on Madigan to resign because of the sexual harassment problems in his office.
"It would be all a huge thing right? It'll be national news. It'll be all the women's groups. It'll be Kelly Cassidy. It'll be a huge tsunami going after him,” McClain told Mapes.
Cassidy alleged Mapes tried to intimidate her after criticizing how Madigan handled Hampton’s case, though Hickey was unable to substantiate her claims. Mapes had made a call to the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, where Cassidy worked part time, inquiring about her employment status.
“Today’s verdict is a vindication for those who, over the years, were willing to stand up and speak out in the face of injustice and abuse by Mapes and his boos,” Cassidy said in a statement. “More importantly, I hope it brings closure and some peace to those who shared their stories with me privately but still feared retribution from Mapes.”
Mapes’ charges were largely unrelated to any of his actions as a state employee, but House Republicans reacted to the verdict seeking to reapply pressure on Democrats to pass more ethics reform legislation.
“Speaker Madigan had such control over Tim Mapes that even when offered immunity, all he had to do was tell the truth and he would escape prosecution, but instead, he lied,” Rep. Patrick Windhorst (R-Metropolis) said in a news conference. “That shows the amount of control and power Speaker Madigan had. We have to put things into the law and make changes to our rules that will limit the power of one person… absolute power in one man has corrupted that institution.”
Rep. Ryan Spain (R-Peoria) said even five years removed from Mapes and almost three years from Madigan, the culture Mapes and Madigan established “still exists in the House.” He suggested further reforms to the House rules to dilute the power of the speaker would address that culture.
Speaker Chris Welch’s (D-Hillside) spokesperson Jaclyn Driscoll listed changes that have happened since Mapes left in 2018, including the hiring of a female chief of staff, a new speaker, as well as ethics reform that was passed in 2021 as evidence House Democrats have taken lessons seriously from the federal prosecutors’ digging into Madigan and his associates.
“Speaker Welch has always said he believes in due process, and a guilty verdict is a signal the law is working,” Driscoll said. “However, if the minority leader has any ideas on how to strengthen federal perjury laws, we’re all ears.”
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