State Rep. Jerry Long, R-Streator, says the harassment complaint against him is “trumped up” and possibly the work of the larger Republican party due to a previously “contentious” relationship.
Long answered followup questions regarding the complaint issued last month during a meeting Monday with editors from The Times.
The 76th District Representative said no official report has been released, but he still feels as if he is on trial.
“Due process has been eliminated,” said Long, whose district includes La Salle, Bureau, Putnam and Livingston counties. “Because in the court of law we’re innocent until proven guilty but in the court of public opinion, and because I’m a legislator and I have a target on my back, due process is gone away, so in the court of public opinion, I’m guilty. Just as soon as the allegation comes out, I’m guilty. Without any proof.”
Long was accused of harassment in September after a House Republican Organization investigation was completed and they asked him to step down, also withholding any further campaign support to him.
Long said he touched a woman’s neck in a “concerned manner,” but that differed from his initial response to WCMY radio in Ottawa where he said he could be a “demanding boss.”
Long said the original complaint was difficult to determine as it was originally misreported to be sexual harassment by other media outlets, then he was told it dealt with running a hostile work environment and was then focused on general harassment.
“They changed the bar. They kept moving the goalposts,” Long said of his initial responses.
A spokeswoman from the House Republican Organization said Long’s story still does not match what was discovered in their investigation, but their inability to release a report to either himself or to media has left him to believe it’s a result of his previous working relationship with the party.
Long noted one such instance of this “contentious” relationship came about when Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner came to Ottawa in July to have a signing event with local Republicans for the “People’s Pledge,” which supported term limits and outing House Speaker Michael Madigan from office.
Long said he did not want to attend after remembering the last time Rauner visited Ottawa when he was chased around the city’s downtown by protesters.
“I blew a gasket. I said, ‘You’re out of your mind,’” Long said of his initial response to the signing. “I don’t agree with the governor a lot and I didn’t disagree on this issue, but I remembered two years ago the big to-do in the courthouse.”
“I blew a gasket and that was probably one of the staffers they investigated and asked, ‘Do you have a contentious relationship with Jerry Long? Well, absolutely,’ ” he added. “But you don’t come into my turf and say … ‘Hey we’re going to do this and you’re going to be there.’ I said, ‘No, it doesn’t work that way. This is my district I represent and you’re not going to come in here and tell me what to do.’ That’s the contentious relationship we had. They don’t like that.”
The divide has led to a lack of funds for the incumbent but he said he’s heard positive things at public campaign events.
“I think people in the district appreciate the fact that if I could change my ‘R’ to an ‘I’ today, I probably would,” Long said. “Because I am an independent for the 76th District. I only run under the Republican name.”
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via | The Times
October 15, 2018 at 09:51PM