Illinois treasurer Dan Rutherford accused of harassment

Feb. 10, 2014 at 5:44 PM
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CHICAGO, Feb. 10 (UPI) -- A former employee filed a federal lawsuit Monday against Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford, alleging he was sexually harassed by the gubernatorial candidate.

At a late-afternoon news conference, Rutherford, who is seeking the Republican gubernatorial nomination, denied the allegations and said he has paperwork indicating the alleged incidents never occurred.

Edmund Michalowski, who served as Rutherford's director of community affairs until last week, said he was also pressured to do political work for Rutherford on state time. He said he complained about the harassment to Rutherford's chief of staff, Kyle Ham, the Chicago Tribune reported.

The suit, which names both Rutherford and Ham, alleges Rutherford repeatedly hit on Michalowski and touched him inappropriately. Michalowski, 43, said Rutherford and Ham pressured him to raise money for Rutherford's campaign and to organize campaign events for Mitt Romney's 2012 presidential campaign in Illinois.

"He [Michalowski] did not report any of these incidents through the Equal Employment Opportunity process," Rutherford said, adding, no employees in his office ever have been forced to provide political work.

Rutherford also talked about Michalowski's financial situation, noting he has filed for bankruptcy and his home was foreclosed.

Rutherford held a news conference Jan. 31 to say he was the target of unfounded misconduct allegations from an unnamed employee and alleged the allegations were politically motivated. He said an attorney asked for $300,000 to settle the allegations and accused GOP gubernatorial opponent Bruce Rauner of being behind the attack. The Tribune said Rauner has dismissed the claim as ridiculous.

Michalowski started a new job Monday with the Cook County recorder of deeds. Michalowski told the Sun-Times he resigned his post with Rutherford last week because he felt intimidated by the Jan. 31 news conference.

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