Double Standards in Senator Durbin’s Office

book cover of For You, For You I am Trilling These SongsTwenty-nine-year-old Kathleen Rooney, a mid-level aide to Illinois Democratic Sen. Richard Durbin, recently published a book on her experience as a political insider in the windy city, entertainingly called For You, For You I am Trilling These Songs. Don’t you love that?

Durbin’s office certainly didn’t. Rooney was fired in early February after the staff caught wind of just how much she revealed in her series of essays. Particularly worrisome (shocker) was her explicit description of her relationship with the chief of staff. An excerpt:

Once upon a time there was a girl in unrequitable (but not unrequited) love with her boss. Every day she would dress up and every day he would compliment her on it…. He would place his hand at the base of her neck, or flick her earring, or twist a strand of her hair…. He would touch her shoulder, he would wander away. He ran the office this way — on the ragged edge of decency.

Rooney was fired, but the guy that ran the office “on the ragged edge of decency”–as she so beautifully put it–has suffered no consequences. The explanation from Durbin’s office is that Rooney “used her position for personal gain.” Okay. So maybe her contract stipulates that this sort of public disclosure isn’t allowed, and if Rooney signed it, it’s understandable that she would get canned. But you’d assume that the chief of staff also signed a contract that barred sexual harassment or other inappropriate workplace behavior, right?

Get the full scoop at the WSJ. I haven’t read this controversial little tome, but I look forward to doing so soon.

UPDATE: “Joe Shoemaker, a Durbin spokesman, said he became aware of Rooney’s book when he read a review in January. He said he read it, and came away “concerned she was describing a hostile work environment” in the Chicago office. Shoemaker said Durbin then read the book. The Senate employment counsel was consulted, the Chicago chief of staff was placed on administrative leave, and an investigation by Durbin’s office was launched, Shoemaker said. Interviews with the Chicago staff showed the chief of staff had shown bad judgment with regard to Rooney, but had not harassed her or anyone else in the office. He was reinstated as an aide, but stripped of supervisory responsibilities. When asked if she was willing to stop taking notes about the office’s inner-workings, Rooney “declined and chose instead to be terminated,” Shoemaker said.”

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