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Dan Rutherford denies sexual harassment allegations, stays in IL governor's race

Dan Rutherford at a news conference on Feb. 10, 2014, regarding criminal allegations made by a former staffer
Dan Rutherford at a news conference on Feb. 10, 2014, regarding criminal allegations made by a former staffer
Chicago Tribune

Illinois State Treasurer and Republican gubernatorial candidate Dan Rutherford adamantly denies the charges filed against him in a federal lawsuit on Monday. Edmund Michalowski, a 43-year-old former top deputy from Chicago, claims in the federal lawsuit that Rutherford pressured him into doing political and also sexually harassed him, according to a Chicago Tribune report on Monday.

Michalowski, who says he complained to Rutherford’s chief of staff about both concerns, alleges that the pressure to do political work dates back three years and the sexual harassment started in April of 2011.

Michalowski accuses Rutherford of creating a hostile work environment for him and other employees from April of 2011 until last December, as well as accusing him of repeatedly “hitting on him” and touching him inappropriately. Therein lies, the sexual harassment allegations.

In response, Rutherford said, “I strongly deny any, any inappropriate conduct, regardless of the date.” The State Treasurer said that there were no witnesses to the allegations – other than the accuser –and that the accuser and never complained about any inappropriate behavior. Rutherford strongly believes the allegations were timed to destroy him just before the Republican primary election which is to be held in Illinois on March 18.

After speaking at a news conference about the matter in Schaumburg, Rutherford moved on to Hoffman Estates to participate in a Republican gubernatorial candidates’ debate hosted by WLS-AM radio.

The GOP gubernatorial candidate that refused to take part in the debate, Bruce Rauner, is the person who Rutherford has said is most likely behind the allegations currently against him.

At the debate, Illinois State Sen. Kirk Dillard asked Dillard, “Are there any more allegations of sexual harassment coming at you from anyone else?” Rutherford said, “Sen. Dillard, I believe that was inappropriate,” and the audience applauded. Rutherford continued, “I’m tell all of you right now, these allegations are absolutely false.”

Later, speaking to reporters, Dillard tried to defend his question of Rutherford by saying, “This has become quite a distraction from the issues… It’s perfectly appropriate for a Republican gathering to ask a nominee if there is anything else that could derail <the Republican’s> ability to beat Pat Quinn in the fall.”

Kyle Ham, Rutherford’s chief of staff, vehemently denies all allegations against himself and Rutherford. He insists that there is no merit to Michalowski’s claims, after his office conducted an initial review.

Additionally, Michalowski’s attorney, Christine Svenson, has had business dealings with the Rauner campaign. Last year, the attorney received $3,500 from the campaign to review an office lease.

Rutherford asserts that he is in the governor's race to stay.

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