On the same day Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn officially claimed the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, he found out that his newly-minted running mate has a rap sheet that includes alleged domestic battery and tax evasion. The revelation has shocked Democrats, leading to worries that his presence could taint the entire statewide ticket.
According to court records obtained by the Chicago Tribune, Scott Lee Cohen, a millionaire pawnbroker who prevailed with a narrow plurality in the crowded primary for lieutenant governor, was accused by his ex-girlfriend, a prostitute, of holding a knife to her neck in a 2005 domestic dispute.
Cohen said in a statement Wednesday that he had no intention of ending his bid.
“I have no intention of stepping down or stepping aside. When the facts come to light, after my ex-wife and ex-girlfriend speak, the people of Illinois can decide, and I will listen to them directly,” said Cohen.
“I tried to tell everyone about this early on. I wanted to talk about all of these issues, but everyone wrote me off, and said I didn’t have a chance to win. Now that I’m the Democratic nominee for Lieutenant Governor, the day after the election, there are questions. I am happy to answer any and all questions; I just need time to do so,” he said.
Cohen prevailed in the primary by using his own wealth to outspend his opposition, and by touting his plan to create job fairs to spur economic development across the state. With the gubernatorial and Senate primaries dominating the headlines, hardly any attention was paid to the downballot contests.
Illinois Democrats, many of whom first found out about Cohen’s past from newspaper reports Thursday, are now scrambling to find a way to remove him from the ballot – a process that they acknowledge is far from simple. (CONTINUES)