Illinois state treasurer and candidate for governor Dan Rutherford has been sued by a male former staffer for sexual harassment.
The lawsuit comes five weeks before the March 18 gubernatorial primary in which Rutherford was seen as the clear runner-up to frontrunner Winnetka venture capitalist Bruce Rauner. The former employee, Ed Michalowski, accused Rutherford of making unwanted sexual advances against him, starting in 2011 and also alleged that Rutherford’s chief of staff did nothing when the incidents were reported. Michalowski, 43, served as Rutherford’s director of community affairs and marketing. He resigned last week, telling the Sun-Times he felt intimidated by a news conference Rutherford held promising to combat the allegations while flanked by former federal agents. Among Michalowski claims is that in 2011 Rutherford held an overnight office retreat at Rutherford’s Chenoa home, entered Michalowski’s bedroom and grabbed his genitals.
Rutherford has published a lengthy denial of the allegations on his campaign website. Yesterday he also held a press conference to address the lawsuit. (Video below). Rutherford has generally been supportive of most LGBT issues, including civil unions, but not same-sex marriage.