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Duckworth Suit Settlement Rejected, Case to Move Forward

Suit stemming from days in state government could be revived as issue in Senate race

The plaintiffs in Duckworth's case will proceed. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
The plaintiffs in Duckworth's case will proceed. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A settlement in a workplace retaliation suit against Illinois Rep. Tammy Duckworth stemming from her time in state government was rejected this week , potentially reviving it as a line of attack for her Republican opponent in their race for Senate seat once held by President Barack Obama.  

Duckworth’s campaign dismissed the civil action as a “frivolous workplace case” when the settlement was reached in June.  That statement angered one of the plaintiffs, Christine Butler, and prompted the legal challenge rather than accept the settlement worth $26,000, according to the Daily Herald, a suburban Chicago newspaper.  

The civil case stemmed from a 2006 incident in which Duckworth was accused of workplace retaliation while heading the Illinois Veterans’ Affairs Department.  

Trial had been set for Aug. 15.  

The development allows Duckworth’s opponent, incumbent Republican Sen. Mark S. Kirk, to reopen the case as a line of attack. He had made the lawsuit a central part of his campaign, alleging that it exposed the congresswoman’s corruption and incompetence while in state government.  

“If Representative Duckworth believes she is innocent, then she should testify,” said Kirk campaign manager Kevin Artl . “But I doubt that she will.”  

The plaintiffs told the Daily Herald that they were not pressured into rejecting the offer. The Kirk campaign confirmed this to Roll Call.  

The Illinois race is one Democrats hope to flip in November. Duckworth is a rising star in the party and has been endorsed  by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and Obama in the race. Kirk is viewed as one of the most vulnerable Republican senators.  

The RollCall/Rothenberg & Gonzales Report rates the race as Leans Democratic.  

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