Hooker-Beating, Wife-Raping, Roid-Raging, Oh My! Illinois Dems Pick Another WinnerS

Illinois Democrats dug deep for this Lieutenant Governor candidate: Scott Lee Cohen is accused of threatening his prostitute ex-girlfriend with a knife, abusing steroids, trying to rape his ex-wife, and terrorizing his children. "That is my parenting style," he explained.

Cohen, a millionaire pawnbroker, managed to gloss over reams of domestic violence allegations until after he won the Illinois Democratic Party's primary for Lieutenant Governor this week. Once the Cohen floodgates opened on Thursday, however, they wouldn't stop. Here are all the terrible things we learned about him in the last 24 hours:

  • According to ex-wife Debra York Cohen, Scott's abuses included beating her, choking her, and trying to rape her.

  • Petitioning for a restraining order during their 2005 divorce, Debra said Scott abused illegal drugs and anabolic steroids, the latter of which he admits to be true.

  • For all the steroids, though, Scott claims he never roid raged at his children, which Debra says he did. He explained in court that he's just a shitty dad:

    Although I may have taken steroids and or performance enhancing drugs in the past I have not utilized any of these drugs in the last two weeks … Although from time to time I have screamed and yelled at my children, that is my parenting style and my prerogative. I have never abused my children, I have never hurt my children and I have never done any harm to them

  • After the divorce, Cohen dated a convicted prostitute employed by a Glenview "massage parlor." She called the cops after a fight in which she claims Scott held a knife to her throat. The charges were dismissed. Here's how he explains it now:

    I was going through a divorce, and I started running with a fast group. I was in a tumultuous relationship with a woman I was dating. We had a fight, but I never touched her.

  • He is very persuasive, because he somehow convinced Debra to accompany him on television (photographed above) where she said he'll be a fine lieutenant governor in spite of it all: "It was a short period of time and it's certainly not something that the people of Illinois need to be concerned with."

How did this sterling gentleman land a critical role in Illinois' 2010 landscape? (a.) The lieutenant governor primary is usually a tiny, low-budget race. Cohen threw $2 million of his own money on the campaign, making him the only candidate with popular name recognition. (b.) Despite the boatloads of money, local Dems and media didn't take him seriously until it was too late, probably because he was a total unknown, politically. Cohen explains,

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.

All of which is rather unfortunate for Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, who thought Rod Blagojevich's downfall meant he wouldn't have to run with criminals, anymore:

"No one in my campaign staff told me anything about it and I don't think anybody knew about it, at least I didn't," Quinn said. "I had no idea of these matters and I learned reading the papers, watching TV. I consider them very, very serious and grave matters. I think any citizen would feel the same."

Quinn says Cohen has an "obligation to step aside," but since Cohen won the primary fair and square (albeit by a tight margin) the Democratic Party's hands are tied. Last time a gubernatorial candidate found himself in this position, it was Adlai Stevenson III in 1986, when a follower of Lyndon LaRouche won the Democratic Party's Lieutenant Governor candidacy. Adlai ended up stepping down and inventing a whole new political party so he could have a better running mate, and ultimately lost to the Republican. Moral of the story: Don't take moneyed upstarts for granted. Moral of the story, part II: If you'd like to buy your way into Illinois politics, lieutenant governor is the path of least resistance. [ChicagoTrib] [ChicagoTrib] [Politico]