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Lawyer: Focus is on political work

Monday, Feb 3, 2014

* Speaking from years of experience watching these things play out, make sure to take all of this with a very big grain of salt

A lawyer for a worker in the office of Illinois State Treasurer and Republican Gubernatorial candidate Dan Rutherford, says her client might not be the only Rutherford employee making allegations against him.

Christine Svenson was on WLS Monday morning with Bruce Wolf and Dan Proft. She says other Rutherford employees may come forth as well with their own accusations: “There may be others. Absolutely.”

Svenson says her client accuses Rutherford of forcing him to do political work on state time, and she says her client may make other allegations in the future. She would not comment on whether some of those allegations could pertain to sexual harassment:

“I can’t comment on that right now. Right now we’re focused on the first amendment claim. We may, you know, I don’t want to box myself in, we may be adding other claims. Don’t speculate, I’m not saying that it’s what you just mentioned, it could be a couple of other different things, we’re just not ready to go there yet”

* Again, take a deep breath here. Lawyers can often bluff a whole lot before they do something. Sometimes they have the goods (George Ryan’s troubles started with a civil lawsuit), sometimes they don’t.

But, whatever the case, this campaign seems likely to veer into uncharted territory during the next week or two.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


40 Comments
  1. - Upon Further Review - Monday, Feb 3, 14 @ 11:49 am:

    When the primary results are tabulated and certified, how do the Republican gubernatorial candidates close ranks and unite behind the nominee? This race is shaping up to be a hot mess.


  2. - connecting the dots - Monday, Feb 3, 14 @ 11:50 am:

    So, Svenson makes 3500 from Rauner campaign. Her real money is from Proft, his various PACs, IPI and Liberty Principles PAC. IPI pretty tight with Rauner. The funder of Liberty Principles? Uihlein, who is on finance committee for Rauner. And we all know Svenson is a political animal…

    Lots of dots there.


  3. - Wensicia - Monday, Feb 3, 14 @ 11:53 am:

    Witch hunt.


  4. - Ron Burgundy - Monday, Feb 3, 14 @ 11:55 am:

    From my perspective, all this talk about what’s going to happen is bad form if it’s all supposedly not political (har har). If you have allegations to make, make them in a court, not on the radio.


  5. - langhorne - Monday, Feb 3, 14 @ 11:58 am:

    there may be others. we are looking at a range of possible claims. it could be this. it could be that. and so on, and so forth. easy to drag this out, without having to substantiate. very dirty and sleazy.

    forced to do political work on state time. well, give us some examples. is it that dan takes every opportunity to personally trumpet the few programs he has, that the average voter can understand and benefit from? go to bone gap to talk about Icash, no big deal. talk to a repub gathering after hours there around the same time? might be a bit dodgy, but it happens. or something more sinister?

    does svenson do any work for charter schools? she might be in line for a $250,000 check a few months from now.


  6. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Feb 3, 14 @ 12:00 pm:

    I said this a long time ago.

    The Twitter and Facebook of Dan Rutherford, and the “real time” tweeting, and all the events, and all the showing of the mix of Political and Governmental, it could lead to a misleading picture of a man, elected statewide, using the office for purely politcal gains, and not one once of perspective, expect the Dopey Tweets or Dopey Posts of “That was not done on State time” as the blanket.

    You can not, can’t, think that being so “man of the people” is the best way to have yourself be seen when allegations arise, and looking at The Twitter and The Facebook put the Principle and/or state workers in peril.

    I got mocked, and ridiculed as I kept with the fake Twitter for Dan, only here.

    I was trying to send a signal; Dan, stop, this will hurt you. Too much bad for the little good.

    How does this tie in?

    You know if this goes deep, and they point to events, or campaign stops, that the Social Media, that will be referenced.

    It is the APPEARANCE. That is what makes this stink. Rich is right, a “grain of salt” is needed. Let’s just hope the Twitter and the Facebook, are not part of this.


  7. - roscoe tom - Monday, Feb 3, 14 @ 12:04 pm:

    How come no one has asked the attorney about the $300,000 in “Hush money”? Can an attorney actively participate in such a coverup of wrong doing?


  8. - Stones - Monday, Feb 3, 14 @ 12:07 pm:

    How many employees actually work for the Treasurer? Were they all hired by Rutherford or are there holdovers?


  9. - William j Kelly - Monday, Feb 3, 14 @ 12:14 pm:

    If the rauner campaign gets a daily morning show on Wls shouldn’t the other campaigns get equal time? Maybe Zahm in the afternoon and drive time with curt Conrad?


  10. - wordslinger - Monday, Feb 3, 14 @ 12:19 pm:

    –”Right now we’re focused on the first amendment claim. We may, you know, I don’t want to box myself in, we may be adding other claims.”–

    Say what? Does your client have a beef or not? If he does, why aren’t you making those claims now?

    It’s all about justice, right?

    This appears now to be a very clumsy attempt at blackmail, with a little political character assassination to boot.

    Isn’t Swenson Proft’s lawyer? And they’re “leaders” in the Cook County GOP?

    That explains a lot.


  11. - AFSCME Steward - Monday, Feb 3, 14 @ 12:20 pm:

    If this is all there is, why the Rutherford secrecy on Friday ? The allegation is certainly different from what was speculated on Friday. The $300,000 angle is also interesting. Why would a licensed attorney participate in a blackmail scheme with a very visible candidate for Governor ? Did this really happen ? $300,000 seems like a lot to cover-up political work. Also Rauner would have a lot more to gain by letting allegations go public. A lot of questions here.

    If Rauner is trying to smear Rutherford it is probably because he sees him as the biggest threat to his candidacy. However, if he succeeds, would those lost Rutherford votes go to him, or would they go to Dillard ?


  12. - Chicago Cynic - Monday, Feb 3, 14 @ 12:22 pm:

    What has really impressed me is how poorly Christine has been handling the press on this. She didn’t just fall off the turnip truck but her messaging is really bad.

    At this point, there’s nothing more to discuss unless and until she produces something in the way of evidence or even a plaintiff.


  13. - Percival - Monday, Feb 3, 14 @ 12:22 pm:

    I think there is a reason why the $300,000 never came up. As I recall, using state workers for political work on state time is a crime. If Svenson demanded a settlement to keep criminal charges “under wraps” that would be an ethical issue. Whether it would be a serious one, I don’t know.


  14. - Chicago Cynic - Monday, Feb 3, 14 @ 12:24 pm:

    One other thing - can we get over this 3500 to review a lease is a huge cost thing. Last time I did a commercial lease it cost me well over 5k, largely because the landlord was being a major league PIA. It’s not inherently an outrageous figure.


  15. - Newsclown - Monday, Feb 3, 14 @ 12:28 pm:

    I’m curious: does WLS pay Profit, or does Proft buy airtime?


  16. - Right Field - Monday, Feb 3, 14 @ 12:32 pm:

    Look, the guy has been using iCash to campaign for governor for the past three years. It’s his “Have a picture taken with every voter in the state” program. It stunk when he spent a boatload of money to re-brand the program, and it stinks to this day. Illegal? Probably not, but as OW points out, he’s painted a picture for his detractors to raise to public scrutiny.

    If the alleged victim knowingly filed a false claim with the IG and EEOC, wouldn’t that likely land him in jail? Seems like a big downside for him for it to be a political stunt.

    Also, if Rutherford felt he was being blackmailed or shaken down, why didn’t he immediately contact law enforcement?

    Curious.


  17. - veritas - Monday, Feb 3, 14 @ 12:42 pm:

    Chicago Cynic: Then she should be happy to produce the lease and her time sheets!!


  18. - Pot calling kettle - Monday, Feb 3, 14 @ 12:43 pm:

    Don’t speculate…but feel free to hypothesize, theorize, guess, and wonder aloud. And I’m not saying its this or that, but I’m going to go ahead and mention it anyway.

    She may or may not be connected directly to Bruce, but she is clearly proceeding in a manner that plays very nicely with his campaign. The “not by Bruce” ads last week about the three career politicians in it for themselves followed up by a lawsuit about making a staffer do campaign work and a push for a news story about sharing a hotel room followed up by the lawyer inviting speculation about sexual harassment.

    The more things happen together, the more it looks like a plan. Does Bruce have writers from “House of Cards” working on his campaign? I’m not sure whose house will collapse, but I’m waiting.


  19. - Percival - Monday, Feb 3, 14 @ 12:43 pm:

    If lawyers demanding settlements on bogus charges were a police matter and a crime, there would never be enough courts in Chicago to try all the cases.


  20. - Phineas J. Whoopee - Monday, Feb 3, 14 @ 12:56 pm:

    I agree with Worslinger regarding this matter and am only interested in what the Attorney Registration and Disiplinary Board would think of her conduct.


  21. - Percival - Monday, Feb 3, 14 @ 12:57 pm:

    The comment about Rutherford going to the cops triggered a memory. This same move was done against Topinka about ten years ago. Doug Ibendahl’s girlfriend, Cathy Santos, claimed the same thing and went to the Feds. I checked articles on line, which show there was a federal grand jury. Nothing came of it. So the real question is not why Rutherford hasn’t gone to the police. It is why the employee and Svenson have not. Rutherford says they demanded money instead, and I note that Svenson has not denied it, despite public statements and a radio appearance. Hmmmmm.


  22. - Formerly Known As... - Monday, Feb 3, 14 @ 1:00 pm:

    === make them in a court, not on the radio ===

    Perhaps they should call an unexpected press conference on a Friday afternoon to make their case?


  23. - Percival - Monday, Feb 3, 14 @ 1:01 pm:

    Checking further, Santos made her charges when Topinka was being considered for GOP State Party Chairman, in an obvious attempt to block it. This sure sounds similar.


  24. - too obvious - Monday, Feb 3, 14 @ 1:02 pm:

    Here’s what I don’t get. The allegation of political work on state time is being characterized by Christine Svenson as a “1st Amendment” issue. Or at least that’s what I gather.

    Actually that’s alleging a crime.

    If Svenson has offered to turn a blind eye to evidence of a crime in exchange for a financial settlement, she has a very serious problem.


  25. - Percival - Monday, Feb 3, 14 @ 1:10 pm:

    Sorry to comment so much. But I have received an email from a person in the photo published Friday on this blog. It is from the 2012 Republican convention, long before anything relevant to this race. Most, if not all pictured were Illinois delegates. I’m told that Svenson strongly dislikes Rutherford, politically anyway.


  26. - walker - Monday, Feb 3, 14 @ 1:12 pm:

    Your headline is right on.

    The lawyer is focused on political activity.


  27. - Formerly Known As... - Monday, Feb 3, 14 @ 1:29 pm:

    In August 2012, Svenson took that picture. In July 2013, Svenson did that legal work.

    Rich’s point remains. Neither are compelling evidence of ties to either campaign.


  28. - LincolnLounger - Monday, Feb 3, 14 @ 1:43 pm:

    If this employee is active in Democrat circles at the state and local level, how would he end up with Svenson as his attorney?

    Her ties to Proft, RNHA, Rauner’s LG candidate, and the Rauner campaign make it pretty easy to connect the dots.


  29. - Ghost - Monday, Feb 3, 14 @ 2:06 pm:

    This all seems pretty typical. lawyer has a client with information and they try to parley a little money for their client and themselves out of a public figure to keep it quiet. Welcome to Illinois law 101. Next somone will claim the chicago canals are polluted


  30. - Filmmaker Professor - Monday, Feb 3, 14 @ 2:33 pm:

    Does the Treasurer job involve any actual work? does it serve any purpose other than a stepping stone to another job? Why does it exist?


  31. - Rich Miller - Monday, Feb 3, 14 @ 2:36 pm:

    ===Why does it exist?===

    Google “Orville Hodge.”


  32. - Filmmaker Professor - Monday, Feb 3, 14 @ 2:52 pm:

    I also ask because Frerichs is probably going to be elected Treasurer, and he doesn’t have even one tiny shred of finance experience. In fact, I don’t think he’s every even had a job before. so if someone who knows absolutely zero about finance can do the job, it probably has no purpose.


  33. - Yeppers - Monday, Feb 3, 14 @ 3:07 pm:

    Seems like all the insiders want to focus on ‘what lawyer worked for who’ when in fact the REAL issue is the employee’s accusation that he was sexually harassed and forced to work on political matters while on state time.


  34. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Feb 3, 14 @ 3:11 pm:

    ===I also ask because Frerichs is probably going to be elected Treasurer…===

    Based on what?

    “may be”, “Could be”, “could possibly be”…

    - Filmmaker Professor -, I hope you are not involved in screenwriting editing.

    “probably” …hmmm.


  35. - Carl Nyberg - Monday, Feb 3, 14 @ 4:20 pm:

    This sounds more like someone trying to generate soundbites for partisan political purposes than a lawyer trying to prove allegations in court.


  36. - mokenavince - Monday, Feb 3, 14 @ 4:23 pm:

    Rutherford’s toast.


  37. - woodchuck - Monday, Feb 3, 14 @ 5:16 pm:

    Speaker Madigan probably predicted this when he decided not to allow Rutherford and Topinka’s bill to combine the offices together. Once again, the Speaker sits back and smiles. It would be interesting to see if Cross and Topinka (or Frerichs and Topinka) still believe the offices should be consolidated.


  38. - IbendahlLuvsJBT - Monday, Feb 3, 14 @ 5:38 pm:

    How can Proft and Rauner NOT be connected to this? Svenson is Proft’s attorney. Proft works for Rauner. Svenson does exclusive on Proft’s radio show. Rauner hired Svenson. Accuser, a democrat, just “happens” to hire Svenson to represent him to shake down Rutherford. Dots, indeed.


  39. - Bestly - Monday, Feb 3, 14 @ 9:10 pm:

    If Rauner were behind this, why would they shake down Rutherford for $300K? Dan is the one who went public, which is what Rauner would desire. From my reading, Svenson was trying to keep this quiet, which does not help Rauner.


  40. - Pot calling kettle - Monday, Feb 3, 14 @ 10:58 pm:

    Bestly: If Dan pays the $300K, it comes out and is portrayed as “hush money.” Dan went public because he had to; the story was about to come out in the press.


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