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Dan Rutherford staffer resigns, charges sexual harassment and political coercion

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Rich Miller's Capitol Fax tipped this story today, obtaining a copy of the letter of resignation sent by Dan Rutherford’s accuser to Rutherford’s chief of staff, Kyle Lam, at the Illinois State Treasurer's office.

Dan Rutherford is the Illinois State Treasurer who was elected in 2010 and is now a candidate for Governor in the Illinois Republican primary.

Last Friday, Rutherford, held what amounted to a "strange" press conference. Here is how Dan Mihalopoulos of the Chicago Sun Times described the events leading up to the press conference.

State Treasurer Dan Rutherford strode confidently into the downtown hotel meeting room where he held a news conference Friday morning, smiling at reporters like he had come to announce an endorsement, unveil a policy initiative or share some other ostensibly positive news in his bid for Republican nomination for governor.

Rutherford said, "Let me make this very clear, there is absolutely no truth to the allegations. No factual support or merit."

He didn't do it, whatever it is. But he can't talk about it. However, the letter confirms there is something there there.

What Rutherford did try to make clear last Friday, whatever it was (and we now know it was the 'sexual harassment' portion), Bruce Rauner is at fault, according to Rutherford.

Rutherford maintained there was a connection between the employee's lawyer, Christine Svenson, and Bruce Rauner. The misconduct complaint was orchestrated to try to upend his chances for the governor nomination at a critical time in the campaign as voters began to pay closer attention.

"You put those dots together, there’s no question in my mind what’s going on here. Someone tried to get $300,000 and is being represented by an attorney who’s on Bruce Rauner’s payroll," Rutherford said.

However, the Rauner campaign told the Chicago Tribune they were not behind the misconduct allegation. They said that Svenson had been used to review and edit the lease for the campaign’s Chicago office and was paid a one-time fee of $3,500 by Rauner, but there was no relationship there.

“Treasurer Rutherford should spend his time answering the serious claims made against him by a state employee, rather than trying to distract attention with false claims against us,” Rauner spokesman Mike Schrimpf said in a statement.

Dan Rutherford is on the defensive in his campaign, as his troubles continue in the quest to become the Republican nominee for governor of Illinois. With the primary Election Day fast approaching on Tuesday, March 18, 2014. The other candidates running for governor, in addition to the Illinois State Treasurer Dan Rutherford, on the Republican side, are the following: State Sen. Kirk Dillard, businessman Bruce Rauner and State Sen. Bill Brady.

The winner will oppose the Democratic primary nominee which is expected to be incumbent Democratic Governor Pat Quinn.

The following is the letter, as obtained by Rich Miller's Capitol Fax. The name of the employee has been withheld. The employee wrote:

Friday was my last day in the office as I am using the rest of my Personal Leave time, floating holiday and sick time to manage my health and other concerns that have manifested as a result of the Treasurer holding a press conference to threaten a victim of sexual harassment while he is flanked by a former federal agent.

The employee letter continued:

I will not be a part of the continued political gamesmanship that the treasurer and you have created. I should have had rights of a victim and a whistleblower. The Treasurer instead made his illegal actions about political gain. In addition I am aware that you and other agents of the Treasurer, both on the government and political side, continue to leak information about me, the victim, for political gain.

He added (the emphasis mine):

Please stop.

He finished with this:

This resignation is based on the conditions that I was forced to work under, and the refusal to provide for a safe work environment. As you know, Kyle, I have referenced the Treasurer’s sexual harassment and political coercion of employees, including me, to you.

In addition, I have objected to turning the Office of the Illinois State Treasurer into a campaign arm of Dan’s bid for governor. You and the Treasurer have forced this issue repeatedly.

Further, as you are aware there are many other names of men in this administration, that have been forwarded to your attorney, who have all felt Dan’s unwanted sexual advances or inappropriate sexual comments. I beg you to please treat these individuals as victims and do not violate their rights as you have mine.

I came into this office with the highest hopes to reform government. It is a shame that senior management did not share that goal.

Rutherford had blamed Republican frontrunner Bruce Rauner at his press conference for his troubles, but apparently this one is on Rutherford.

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Sources:

Letter of resignation

Capitol Fax

Chicago Tribune

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Send John Presta an email and your story ideas or suggestions, johnpresta@att.net.

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