Embattled Democratic Rep. Tammy Duckworth (Ill.) settled on Friday a years-long legal dispute surrounding allegations the lawmaker wrongly retaliated against employees during her tenure as the head of Illinois’ Department of Veterans Affairs.
The state was forced to pay $26,000 to settle the years-long case against Duckworth.
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Duckworth, who is battling to unseat Sen. Mark Kirk (R., Ill.) this November, was accused of silencing state whistleblowers by humiliating them, giving them poor performance reviews, and eventually terminating the employees.
Duckworth's legal fees may have cost taxpayers nearly $2 million, according to a FOIA response from Illinois' attorney general.
Kirk’s camp accused Duckworth of settling the case to avoid incriminating herself at trial.
"What is crystal clear is that Duckworth does not want the truth to come out," said Kevin Artl, Kirk for Senate campaign manager, in a statement. "After weeks of dodging questions about whether or not she will testify at her own trial, Duckworth is now answering that question by engaging in behind the scenes settlement talks in order to avoid a trial and having to take the stand."
"What makes this situation even more egregious is that Illinois taxpayers will ultimately have to pay the bill for Duckworth's improper actions," Artl said.
While the court did not make a determination of wrongdoing on Duckworth’s part, the state will pay the disgruntled workers $26,000 to cover their legal fees.
Duckworth campaign spokesman Matt McGrath told the Chicago Tribune the settlement is "appropriate for what was always a frivolous workplace case."