SPRINGFIELD — U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, said Monday that he did not personally send a campaign field director to a fundraiser for his opponent last week where that staffer was arrested for allegedly harassing the Democratic candidate and her supporters.
"There is no way that I would ever send anyone to go sit at a bar for multiple hours and become intoxicated with my opponent's supporters," Davis said when asked if his campaign sent Levi Lovell, 25, to the event for candidate Betsy Dirksen Londrigan at J.P. Kelly's Pub in downtown Springfield.
Asked if his campaign might have sent Lovell to attend the event, Davis said, "I did not send anybody there. I don't believe anybody on my campaign has ever said that they sent Levi to that event, and I certainly don't condone the behavior. ... I think it's wrong, and frankly, there probably would have been disciplinary actions without the video that was in question."
Cellphone video from the Wednesday event was turned over to police and posted on social media by news media. Springfield police Lt. Brian Oakes said Lovell, who was charged with aggravated battery, was "purposely trying to record members of Betsy Dirksen Londrigan's campaign, trying to get them to say something inappropriate."
Lovell, of Hillsboro, was released from Sangamon County Jail on Thursday after posting $750. A Sept. 13 court date was set.
Davis spoke with reporters Monday at the University of Illinois Springfield, where he hosted a veterans' education benefits roundtable including U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tennessee, chairman of the House veterans affairs committee.
Davis said he personally called Londrigan to apologize for the Wednesday incident, and his campaign manager fired Lovell "before I even knew the details" of the event.
Davis said he continues to seek civility in politics.
"I've been screamed at so loud by supporters of those who are opposed to me that they've spat on me on the streets of Springfield," Davis said. "That's not something that we should condone. And I certainly don't condone the behavior of my former employee, either."
Davis also said he has never seen behavior from Lovell like that exhibited at the bar.
"I've walked parades and been around Levi," Davis said. "It's an unfortunate mistake that I hope Levi is able to get through. ... That's something he's going to have to live with the rest of his life, and I hope somebody gives him a second chance if he proves that he deserves it."