Judge clears ex-Treasurer Rutherford in retaliation lawsuit
Former Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford was cleared on Monday in a lawsuit filed by three former employees alleging retaliation was behind their terminations.
Patrick Carlson, George Daglas and Ashvin Lad filed the suit in which they claimed they were fired after cooperating in an ongoing sexual harassment probe of Rutherford and his chief of staff Kyle Ham that was filed by former staffer Ed Michalowski.
The Michalowski case is still pending in federal court. The plaintiff claims he was subjected to unwanted advances by Rutherford, who later overlooked him for a promotion.
While Judge James Snyder ruled that none of the three men proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that revenge was solely behind their terminations, he nonetheless admonished Rutherford for the way he ran his office, including using state workers to drive him to various political events when he was a candidate for governor in 2014.
Throughout the proceedings, counsel for Rutherford argued that the three plaintiffs were fired for cause, namely after an inspector general's report found that they had falsified timekeeping records.
Dana Kurtz, attorney for the plaintiffs, agreed with the judge that Rutherford sullied the sanctity of his office through many of his actions and said he plans to appeal the court verdict.
“The plaintiffs are disappointed with the judge’s ruling in not finding that the defendants violated the Illinois Ethics Act when they fired them from their employment with the treasurer’s office,” he told Chicago City Wire. “However, the plaintiffs received some vindication from the judge’s statements from the bench, where he found that Dan Rutherford and his administration violated the Ethics Act by using state resources for political gain.”
Taxpayers had already been on the hook for more than $500,000 that it cost to defend Rutherford in two civil cases before the recent trial. Bills continue to mount for taxpayers, who are forced to pay despite the fact that Rutherford had more than $900,000 left in his campaign war-chest following his failed 2014 gubernatorial run.
None of the lingering questions about finances where Rutherford is concerned seemed to surprise Kurtz.
“The judge also chastised Rutherford for how he ran the treasurer’s office and his political campaign out of the treasurer’s office,” he said.