House aspirant decries 'lack of outrage' over Silverstein accusations
Amanda Biela says the floodgates have opened and the truth about sexual harassment is pouring forth.
"Hollywood is not the only place finally being exposed for a culture of sexual harassment,” Biela told Chicago City Wire. “In the wake of misconduct allegations against State Sen. Ira Silverstein, Springfield is finally attempting to take sexual harassment seriously.”
Biela is running against Rep. John D’Amico (D-Chicago) in the 15th District, which includes Morton Grove and Niles.
Biela accused House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) of being largely to blame for the nearly three-year lack of a legislative inspector general, who reviews harassment complaints. Attorney Julie Porter was named to the post on Nov. 4.
Biela called a "flurry of legislation" on the issue, including a proposal for a sex harassment hotline by House Minority Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs), as steps in the right direction but argued it remains to be seen just how much reform will occur.
“The lack of outrage around Silverstein is notable,” Biela said. “Yes, he lost his leadership position and the stipend that went with it, but there have been no calls from anyone in his party to step down. Silverstein is the state senator for my district. It disturbs me as a constituent and as a woman that he's basically been given a slap on the hand by his party.”
Biela noted that her opponent, D'Amico, has often appeared with Silverstein at town halls and community but has not spoken up about the allegations.
“This sends a message to women in my district and the state that Mike Madigan and the Democratic Party in Illinois will overlook sexual harassment if it's one of their own,” Biela said, calling for ongoing scrutiny and due process to investigate active complaints against lawmakers.
“The recent steps taken to curb sexual harassment are a start, but if lawmakers continue to put party and political agenda first, then real change may never occur in the Statehouse halls," Biela said.