SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Ill. Gov.Pat Quinn said his running mate for the November general election “has a lot of explaining to do” about a 2005 domestic battery charge and strongly hinted that Scott Lee Cohenshould step aside.
But the Chicago pawnbroker said he had “no intention” of dropping out and asked his ex-wife and ex-girlfriend to come forward and answer questions about his history. Cohen also said he tried to “tell everyone about this early on,” in a second e-mailed statement through his campaign’s publicity firm this afternoon.
“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.”
Cohen defeated five other candidates for the nomination. Though Cohen declared the arrest for domestic battery at the start of his primary campaign, police reports allege the now 44-year-old threatened his girlfriend at the time with a knife and held the weapon to her throat.
Cohen has denied hurting the woman and said the couple only argued. Quinn said Cohen should have an opportunity to fully explain the arrest but “the only appropriate thing is to step aside” if he fails to meet voters’ questions head-on.
The police report also noted abrasions on the woman’s neck and hand. The charges against Cohen were dropped when the woman did not come to a scheduled court date.
Cohen is scheduled to appear on Chicago Tonight, a public television news program, tonight at 7 p.m.
Illinois law requires candidates for governor and lieutenant governor to run separately in the primary and as a team in the general election. The rule has resulted in sticky situations: Pat Quinn and Rod Blagojevich rarely spoke in the indicted former governor’s second term.
“There are very grave issues I’ve learned about since Tuesday,” Quinn said during an hour-long press conference this morning, during which he never mentioned his running mate by name.
The Post-Dispatch’s Kevin McDermott and The Associated Press contributed.
Cohen’s full statement :
“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. I am asking my ex-wife and ex-girlfriend to come forward and to talk with the media.
There are questions, and I will provide all answers honestly and openly. I only ask for time to do the interviews. 2005 was a difficult time in my life. I was going through a divorce, and I started running with a fast group. 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, I ended it, and we parted amicably.”
Cohen’s second full statement:
“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.”
The e-mail also included a link to a March 2009 column from Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mark Brown.