For more than two years, an Illinois attorney has fought against a lawsuit filed by a former chief of staff against powerful Senator Michael Hastings (D-Frankfurt).
But earlier this year, the state paid a former Hastings chief of staff and her attorney $100,000 to settle a case involving racial and sexist accusations against Democratic lawmakers.
The state also hired a private attorney to represent Hastings for nearly $47,000.
Although the civil lawsuit has been settled, Hastings now faces serious new personal charges from his estranged wife. This has recently come into public view and threatens to derail his once-promising political career.
Boasting a West Point education and military service in Iraq, the 41-year-old Hastings was considered by many to be Springfield’s rising star.
Instead, he now finds the Hastings family facing a Republican challenger in November to cling to a Senate seat representing a powerful Southern suburban district.
Hastings stepped down from his role on the Senate Democratic leadership team last month shortly after domestic violence accusations from his estranged wife surfaced online this summer.
Police records obtained by WBEZ show Hastings’ wife told police last year that he put a headlock on her in 2020 and slammed her into the door multiple times. Hastings denies the accusations.
Lawmakers filed for divorce from Kathleen Hastings last year.Will County officials took the unusual step of sealing the entire domestic court proceedings from public view.
But Jen Walling, a Springfield environmental lobbyist, told WBEZ that Kathleen Hastings’ complaints to the police and her experience of being repeatedly bullied by Michael Hastings in her interactions with experts meant that she no longer wanted to lobby him. He said he decided not to act. He called for his resignation as a senator. Walling, the longtime executive director of the Illinois Environmental Council, said in interviews that over the past five years, during a legal disagreement in Springfield, Mr. Hastings yelled at her and sat at the Capitol table. and approached her in a threatening manner. .
“In observing him, it’s clear that he had a serious problem with inappropriate anger management for a workplace enforcing Illinois law,” Walling said.
Hastings declined an interview.
In a written statement, Hastings spokesman Ray Hanania said Waring was “not honest” and said her accusations and other recent complaints against Hastings seemed to undermine his bid for re-election. It was suggested that it was designed for
Hanania said Michael Hastings requested that his divorce proceedings, which are normally public, be kept private.
“Divorce is a personal matter,” Hanania said. “Until the matter is resolved, it should not be released for use in unrelated ways, especially to influence politics or elections.”
Records show that the couple got married in Las Vegas in 2014 and the senator filed for divorce on June 21, 2021.
Court and police records show Hastings’ divorce filing came the day after Frankfort police responded to a “domestic trouble” reported by the senator’s wife. At about 4:30 p.m. on June 20, 2009, Kathleen Hastings wrote that she had “advised her that she had had an argument with her husband, Senator Michael Hastings.”
While filing her report last year, Kathleen Hastings told police she had a violent confrontation with Michael Hastings in November 2020.
“She also advised that on September 11, 2020, Michael restrained her by the neck and beat her by repeatedly slamming her body against the door.” “She said it was the only time he had had a physical relationship with her and she wanted to seek help from FPD, but feared for her safety.” We withheld reporting on the battery because we explained we didn’t want it all over the media.
However, she told police that her husband’s “emotional and verbal abuse” over the past eight months has made her determined that “the civil route is over.”
However, according to police records, Kathleen Hastings told police she did not want to “talk to Michael or investigate the battery”, which allegedly happened the year before she called the police to her home. rice field.
According to police records from two other southern suburban communities of Mokena and New Lenox, Michael Hastings recently got the police involved in a dispute between him and his estranged wife over custody of their children.
After a dispute over when and where to transfer the children on July 8, the senator called police in Mokena and asked them to arrest his estranged wife.
Police said Kathleen Hastings provided them with evidence that the couple had agreed to the agreed routine changes. He was very insistent that she be prosecuted, but she was supportive and waited in Frankfort for him to pick up the child. MPD rejected it because it was
After Mokena Police refused his “very adamant” demands, Michael Hastings called New Lenox Police and asked them to arrest Kathleen Hastings.New Lenox Police also Kathleen Hastings When he refused to arrest Mr.
The divorce proceedings proceeded in secret in Will County, but the lengthy legal battle between Hastings and the former aide ended in Cook County Circuit Court.
Aide Cassandra Matz sued the Illinois Senate and Hastings in 2019. She accused him of retaliating after she accused him of “discriminating against her on the basis of gender, race, disability, and political discrimination.” Mats are black. Hastings is white.
Many of Matts’ lawsuits were dismissed before a settlement was reached in December. According to the agreement, state officials and Hastings continued to deny any wrongdoing and contracted Mutts “to avoid further expenses.”
State records show that the attorney general hired attorney Ryan Jacobson to represent Hastings. Jacobson said he approached the lawsuit at a heavily discounted rate, and part of the state’s payment to his company went toward external arbitration, court costs, and administrative costs related to the lawsuit.
Annie Thompson, a spokeswoman for Attorney General Kwame Raul, declined to say why the state agreed to settle the case. Thompson said it’s not uncommon to settle lawsuits filed by employees because court cases are “unpredictable and can ultimately cost taxpayers more.”
Walling, an environmental lobbyist, has learned that publicly complaining against Hastings, chairman of the Senate Energy and Public Works Committee, could be detrimental to the issues she champions in Springfield. But Walling said after hearing about Kathleen Hastings’ domestic violence accusations, she decided to speak to the Senator.
Waring said his troubles with Michael Hastings dated back to at least 2017. Waring said during negotiations over potential law, Hastings would “suddenly get angry and get up and bang on the table.” did so many times.
When she angered Hastings, he retaliated through official action, she said.
“Bullying and intimidation is his behavior at Springfield,” Walling said. “He threatened to destroy all my bills. He would refuse our people to testify before the Commission.”
Walling provided screenshots of text message exchanges with other lobbyists in 2019.
“Did you hear Hastings yell at us?” she wrote to one lobbyist.
She said Hastings should resign, or at least remove the chairman of the committee.
“He’s not someone I would consider lobbying for anymore,” Walling said.
Hanania said Waring was a “bully.” He also said that Walling’s group gave Hastings the award, and provided text messages showing friendly interactions between the senators and lobbyists. This includes the one from earlier this year.
https://chicago.suntimes.com/2022/9/16/23355734/michael-hastings-kathleen-domestic-violence-accusations-jen-walling-cassandra-matz Illinois Senator Michael Hastings, whose wife Kathleen Hastings accused him of domestic violence, faces mounting political and personal problems