A prominent state legislator, who led efforts in the Illinois House to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, has stepped down from his leadership post after being accused of bullying and intimidation.
Maryann Loncar, an advocate and lobbyist for medical marijuana, said state Rep. Lou Lang touched her lower back and made suggestive comments while she was working to help pass legislation he was sponsoring. "I was asked to come forward today by the people who knew about the abuse I suffered after I rejected the inappropriate actions of Representative Lou Lang," she told reporters. The misconduct allegedly took place several years ago.
Loncar claimed the misconduct went from flirtatious to threatening after she allegedly stopped Lang and two other lawmakers from receiving $170 million in a so-called "bribery exchange." Loncar said she attended a meeting where she learned of this proposal. Since then, she says she's feared for her life.
But Lang — a Skokie Democrat — said those allegations are false. "This is a person who did not get what she wanted out of state government. She apparently blames me for that," he said in reponse to the press confernce Loncar and others spoke at. It had been teased to reporters in the week preceding, but the person in question wasn't identified publicly before Thursday. The ERA ratification resolution passed the night before.
Loncar was joined by one-time Republican House candidate Denise Rotheimer, who previously accused another lawmaker of sexual harassment — and Republican Rep. Jeanne Ives.
Lang addressed reporters following the allegations and said he's requested an investigation by the Legislative Inspector General, but Ives and Rotheimer say the results can’t be trusted. Rotheimer said she will not allow the investigation to proceed — unless an outside investigator takes the lead.
Loncar claims she has documents that prove her allegations and they may become public.
A female lobbyist and several Democratic lawmakers, mostly women, joined Lang in his press conference soon after Loncar made her accusation. They spoke in support of Lang and pointed to him as a mentor in the General Assembly.
State Rep. Kathleen Willis of Addison said Lang will continue to be someone she looks up to, and pointed to Lang's work on the ERA as proof of his good character. "This is a man who works for women on many, many levels," she said. "I can tell you from my own personal experience, I think he's a man of integrity."
Loncar called on other women, including an unnamed state lawmaker, to come forward with their own accounts of Langs alleged misconduct.