In a March 8 hearing on the Illinois Fighting Wage Theft Act in the Illinois State Senate Labor Committee, State Sen. Jim Oberweis ( R-Sugar Grove ) implied that both "wife beating" and wage theft were ultimately results of "differences of opinion."
After hearing details of the bill, Oberweis asked a witness, workers' rights advocate Don Chartier, whether he'd ever beaten his wife or any other woman, to which Chartier answered, "No."
Oberwiess then asked Chartier if he'd ever had a disagreement with a woman, to which Chartier answered, "Yes." At that point, Oberweis made the point that both wife-beating and wage-theft accusations boiled down to differences of opinion and "he said, she said" scenarios.
In a statement released by HourVoice, an organization pushing for the passage of the wage theft law, Chartier said, "I was absolutely shocked to hear the crime of wage theft and the crime of domestic violence both compared to 'differences of opinion' and minimized by Senator Oberweis, particularly in a State Senate hearing on International Women's Day. His comments have certainly strengthened my resolve to work hard to fight both of these crimes."
The Illinois Fighting Wage Theft Act was passed by the committee.
Oberweis, a dairy magnate, is widely-known for his conservative views, many of which were exemplified by a pair of notorious anti-immigration political ads in 2004. He later spearheaded efforts to oust former Illinois GOP Party Chair Pat Brady, when Brady came out in favor of marriage equality. Oberweis later reversed his stance on marriage equality in during a campaign to replace U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin.