Ex-girlfriend at center of Scott Lee Cohen scandal: Lt. Gov. nominee not fit to hold office
BY MAUDLYNE IHEJIRIKA, MONIFA THOMAS, LYNN SWEET AND MARY WISNIEWSKI
The ex-girlfriend who accused Democratic Lt. Governor nominee Scott Lee Cohen of threatening her with a knife said Saturday she "does not believe he is fit to hold any public office.''
Amanda J. Eneman's statement, issued through well-known celebrity attorney Gloria Allred, are the first public comments by the convicted prostitute since details about Cohen's background emerged following his victory in the primary Tuesday.
"Ms. Eneman was Scott Lee Cohen's girlfriend and lived with him for about a year, some four or five years ago," said Allred, who has represented women claiming to be girlfriends of golfer Tiger Woods among other high-profile clients.
"Based on her personal observations during the course of their relationship and his behavior, Ms. Eneman does not believe that he is fit to hold any public office, including that of Lt. Governor," Allred said.
Allred said her 29-year-old client "has no further comment at this time and does not wish to be contacted."
Cohen's spokesman, Baxter Swilley, wouldn't comment specifically late Saturday about Eneman's statement.
"He wishes her the very best,'' Swilley said.
Swilley also said Cohen, a wealthy pawnbroker who spent $2 million of his own money in the primary, won't give up his spot as Gov. Quinn's running mate in the fall general election.
"At this point, he's still staying in the race,'' Swilley said.
Last week, Cohen publicly called for Eneman to come forward to discuss his Oct. 14, 2005 arrest. A police report from the incident shows she accused him of placing a knife up to her neck and pushing her head against a wall, causing scars and a bump on her head. The charges were later dropped when Eneman failed to show up to a court hearing.
"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, who denied laying a hand on anyone. "I am asking my ex-wife and ex-girlfriend to come forward and to talk with the media."
Cohen's ex-wife, Debra York-Cohen, gave a television interview Thursday saying that although she stood behind allegations in a 2005 divorce case that Cohen had tried to force her to have sex and had an explosive temper, she said he is "not that person today and hasn't been for quite some time."
Swilley wouldn't confirm statements from a Cohen campaign source, who told the Sun-Times Friday that Cohen was seeking an "honorable way'' off the ticket. Cohen, the source said, was upset that Quinn denounced him even before calling him after Cohen's primary win.
But Saturday, a spokesman for Quinn said the governor has still not spoken to Cohen.
Larry Grisolano, a Quinn consultant, told the Sun-Times that he "did not know the circumstance" under which Quinn would be prompted to make a call to Cohen.
Grisolano said the "push" for getting Cohen off the ticket over the weekend was focused on having Democratic elected officials "expressing their views in public" about Cohen and calling for him to quit the race. U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and others have asked Cohen to withdraw.
"I think that is the most persuasive thing going on right now," Grisolano said.
But there was at least one top local Democrat who refused to join the chorus: Mayor Daley.
"It's a constitutional dilemma. Once you get elected in the primary, no mayor, no newspaper, no citizens can ask you to resign because I don't like you anymore,'' Daley said.
Daley questioned whether an arrest that didn't lead to a conviction should be used against Cohen.
"So anybody who's arrested and the case is thrown out, they should not run for public office?'' Daley asked. "I'm just saying it's a very complicated issue.''
Contributing: Mark Konkol