It’s the case that just won’t go away for U.S. Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth, and it's Illinois taxpayers who keep footing the bill.
The cost to defend Duckworth in a recent worker retaliation case goes beyond the $26,000 settlement.
Duckworth was sued by two women who said she retaliated against them when she was the head of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs.
A court ruled in June that no laws had been broken, but brokered a settlement with the state that included the costs of the workers’ attorney fees.
Last week the women said they would try to have the settlement voided because they claimed Duckworth broke the agreement by disparaging them publicly, though Attorney General Lisa Madigan, who defended Duckworth, has said the agreement should stand.
Jared Labell, executive director of Chicago-based Taxpayers United of America, said whatever the final outcome, it will be state taxpayers who will be the ones paying for Duckworth’s legal defense.
“In this case, in particular, it cost taxpayers $26,000 to settle with the two employees that had brought the case against Mrs. Duckworth,” he said. “Only government institutions can pay out (settlements); therefore, they’re paying with taxpayer dollars.”
He said there are other costs involved, too — like the cost of Madigan’s office defending the case.
“With some cases that go on far longer, that actually reach trial, costs can be into the millions depending on the different fees and court costs and attorneys’ fees as well,” Labell said.
He said the bill can grow to astronomical amounts when it’s a long-simmering, complicated defense. It can cost even more if the state loses or, in specific cases, fail to appeal.
“And then, of course, depending on what the case is actually concerned with, if taxpayers, so to speak, lose in the case, that can cost millions of millions of dollars," Labell said.