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U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth settles workplace lawsuit

By
Daniel Uria
Tammy Duckworth, candidate for the House of Representatives from Illinois, departs after her speech at the Democratic National Convention at the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, North Carolina on September 4, 2012. Duckworth reached a $26,000 in a civil lawsuit alleging that she participated in workplace retaliation during her time as head of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs. The case had been a focal point of Republican Senator Mark Kirk's campaign against Duckworth as he seeks reelection.
 UPI/Kevin Dietsch
Tammy Duckworth, candidate for the House of Representatives from Illinois, departs after her speech at the Democratic National Convention at the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, North Carolina on September 4, 2012. Duckworth reached a $26,000 in a civil lawsuit alleging that she participated in "workplace retaliation" during her time as head of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs. The case had been a focal point of Republican Senator Mark Kirk's campaign against Duckworth as he seeks reelection. UPI/Kevin Dietsch | License Photo

CHICAGO, June 25 (UPI) -- A civil lawsuit against U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth that alleged workplace retaliation was settled for $26,000 on Friday, officials said.

The lawsuit alleged that Duckworth, a Democrat who is trying to unseat Republican U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, violated ethics laws as head of Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs by taking action against two employees who worked at a home for veterans. It was settled on an agreement with no finding of wrongdoing.

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According to Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, the $26,000 settlement provided by the state to the two workers at the Anna Veteran's Home would also cover attorney's cost.

"During the course of today's discussions, it became clear that we could resolve this matter on behalf of the State and both Trish Simms and Tammy Duckworth for nuisance value - Saving the State the costs of lawyers preparing for and trying the case," Attorney General's Office spokeswoman Maura Possley said. Simms was the acting administrator at the home.

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The trial, which had been set for August, was a focal point of Kirk's campaign against Duckworth as he seeks reelection.

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Duckworth had been appointed as head of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs by former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who is serving a 14-year federal prison sentence after being convicted on corruption charges.

Kirk had hoped to link Duckworth to Blagojevich's corruption and maintained that the settlement still implied some kind of guilt.

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"We now know that there are 26,000 reasons why Tammy Duckworth was guilty. The simple truth is that if Tammy Duckworth was innocent, she would not have settled this case," Kirk's campaign manager Kevin Artl said. "Instead of taking the stand and testifying, Duckworth has chosen to stay silent and settle the case at taxpayer expense in order to hide from the truth. Duckworth's actions have cost Illinois taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars while prolonging the legacy of Rod Blagojevich's corruption."

Duckworth had said she wanted to present the facts, but was prevented from speaking about the case during the litigation.

Her campaign manager Matt McGrath said the settlement was "appropriate for what was always a frivolous workplace case," and accused Kirk of relying on the case for his reelection.

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"Kirk had clearly pinned his desperate campaign hopes on what a federal judge [once] deemed a 'garden variety workplace case,' and now it's clear he's got nothing left to offer Illinois families," McGrath said.

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