Democrats drop PR firm co-founded by top Biden adviser over ‘disqualifying’ #MeToo conflict

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Illinois House Democrats have dropped a top communications firm co-founded by a member of President Biden’s inner circle after it was revealed it raked in $200,000 providing counsel to a Democratic campaign facing sexual harassment charges while also positioning itself as a leader in the #MeToo movement.

“The glaring conflict of interest and conduct in this case sends a chilling message to victims and survivors that they can’t even trust the people who claim to be their greatest supporters,” Emanuel “Chris” Welch, the speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives, said Monday in a statement to NPR. 

“We find this to be deeply disheartening and disqualifying for us.” 

The move comes after an NPR report that communications firm SKDK, co-founded by top Biden adviser Anita Dunn, provided “communications assistance” to Michael Madigan, former speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives, from 2018 to 2019, while he was being sued by a former employee who said Madigan punished her when she came forward accusing her supervisor of sexually harassing her. 

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Anita Dunn

Anita Dunn appears on “Meet The Press” (Getty Images)

At the same time Dunn was advising Madigan, SKDK was also supporting Alaina Hampton through a partnership with the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, an anti-harassment charity. 

“We’re proud to partner with @TimesUpNow,” SKDK posted on social media in 2018.

Hampton told NPR she was never told that SKDK was providing counsel to the man she was suing at the same time. 

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Anita Dunn on WH lawn

White House deputy chief of staff Bruce Reed, counselor to the president Steve Ricchetti and senior adviser to the president for communications Anita Dunn walk across the South Lawn. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

“They never told me that they were also working for Michael Madigan. And had they disclosed that with me, I would have never applied for legal funding or PR support with them,” Hampton said.

A White House spokesperson directed Fox News Digital to SKDK, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In a statement to NPR, an SKDK spokesperson appeared to apologize for the matter after initially defending policy.

“In retrospect, we realize that the decision to work with then-Speaker Madigan’s campaign on these matters was an error in light of the support Ms. Hampton was receiving from another firm through a separate initiative we were proud to support,” spokesperson Michael Czin said.

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Anita Dunn

Anita Dunn, center, senior advisor to President Joe Biden, and Reema Dodin, White House deputy director of legislative affairs, right, arrive for a lunch meeting with Senate Democrats at the U.S. Capitol July 22, 2021. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

“We apologize to Ms. Hampton and her allies and reiterate our full support for the survivor community.”

Dunn, who The New York Times recently described as being part of Biden’s “inner circle,” did not respond to a request for comment from Fox News Digital. 

“To learn that [Dunn] was helping advise my former employer on my retaliation case due to sexual harassment is just a clear conflict of interest, and I think anyone can see that for what it is,” Hampton, who found out about the ties in court during a federal corruption investigation into Madigan, told NPR.

“It’s really a violation of trust, and it feels like a betrayal.”

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