Photo: Adam Fagen
CHICAGO - As the 2014 campaign heats up, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin frequently talks about a Republican “war on women.” But it may Durbin who is waging the war.
This evening, Durbin will be attending a Hillary Clinton fundraising event with a connection to International Profit Associates (IPA), an Illinois-based management consulting company that was found guilty in one of the most egregious sexual harassment cases in U.S. history.
Myron "Mike" Cherry is a co-host of the event, which features Durbin as well as Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan.
Cherry was the long-time attorney for Buffalo Grove-based International Profit Associates (IPA), which was sued for sexual harassment by 113 former female employees.
According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), “IPA had a pattern or practice of sexually harassing its female employees, and the court made a formal finding to that effect, upon IPA’s concession, on June 14, 2010, prior to trial. The EEOC had alleged that the harassment involved a systemic pattern of sexual assaults and propositions, inappropriate touching, and crude sexual comments. EEOC had also contended that the highest ranking officers of IPA not only fostered a pattern and practice of sexual harassment but personally engaged in the harassment themselves.”
When announcing the $8 million settlement against IPA in 2011, the EEOC described it as the one of the longest running sexual harassment cases in U.S. history. A lawyer for the government described it as “the worst case I’ve ever experienced.”
"This is by far, hands down, the worst case I've ever experienced," said Diane Smason, one of the EEOC lawyers handling the lawsuit. "Every woman there experienced sex harassment, they were part of a hostile work environment of sex harassment. And this occurred from the top down."
Cherry was not only the lawyer for IPA, but was also identified by The New York Times and at least one other media outlet as the conduit for some of the massive campaign contributions IPA made to top Democratic public officials, including Hillary Clinton, Lisa Madigan, Durbin, and many others.
A longtime Democratic fundraiser, Cherry was associated with the prosecutions of imprisoned influence peddler Tony Rezko and imprisoned Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. In fact, Cherry was identified as “Individual H” in the Rezko indictment, and was given a controversial $900,000 no-bid contract by the Blagojevich administration. Cherry was never charged by the federal government.
At a press conference today, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Jim Oberweis said: “Instead of bragging about attending this evening’s fundraiser for Hillary PAC, Dick Durbin, if he had any semblance of concern for the well-being of women, he would not go within 10 miles of the event.”
Oberweis called on Durbin to disassociate himself from the Hillary Clinton fundraising event until all participants return money associated with International Profit Associates (IPA), the company responsible for the sexual harassment. He also called on Durbin to return $38,550 affiliated with the sexual harassment case.
Durbin took $3,250 in campaign contributions from IPA top executives and another $35,300 from IPA attorney Myron Cherry and his wife.
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D) has also taken $11,500 in contributions from Myron Cherry. And Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan (D) has publicly refused to return IPA money. She accepted $19,300 in in-kind help from IPA during her first run for Attorney General in 2002 and finally sued IPA after years of fraud complaints from small business owners. That case has been pending since 2009.
Oberweis says he has confronted the Democrats' "war on women" before. In his 2008 primary campaign for U.S. Congress, he raised questions about IPA donations received by his opponent, who later returned nearly $100,000 in contributions.
ANALYSIS OF DURBIN'S STAFF SALARIES SHOWS THE SENATOR ENGAGED IN WAR ON WOMEN