Gov. Pat Quinn said at a news conference in Chicago today that his Democratic running mate, Scott Lee Cohen, "has a lot of explaining to do."
“It’s imperative that the lieutenant governor candidate speak up quickly… and completely about very serious matters that I think all of us are concerned about.”
Cohen was charged with domestic battery in 2005. The charges were dropped when Cohen’s then-girlfriend did not appear in court. The police report alleges that Cohen pushed the woman against a wall and threatened her with a knife. Cohen denies the allegations. In the same month as the alleged incident, the woman pleaded guilty to an unrelated prostitution charge, and Cohen has said that he was unaware that she was a prostitute.
“It was a difficult time in my life. I was going through a divorce, and I fell in with the wrong crowd. I was in a tumultuous relationship with the woman I was dating. We had a fight, but I never touched her. She called the police, however, she never came to court, and the charges were dismissed. I realized this relationship was not healthy for me. I ended it, and we parted amicably,” Cohen said in a written statement.
Quinn said he found out about Cohen’s past yesterday morning. Cohen, a Chicago businessman, was the surprise winner of the Democratic primary. He has no prior political experience and his campaign was almost completely self-funded.
Quinn said that Cohen should be given the chance to explain his past, but if the issue becomes too much of a distraction, he should drop out of the race.
“If the explanations are unsatisfactory, if the conduct is inappropriate, the only way to go is to step aside.”
Since Cohen's past was brought to light, rumors have been swirling that Quinn's campaign may try to pressure him off the ticket. Quinn denied this and said he thinks Cohen will "do the right thing."