* The Sun-Times has a story today that other reporters were tipped to by the Bruce Rauner campaign. The lede…
In his three years as Illinois treasurer, Dan Rutherford has demonstrated a penchant for globe-trotting unlike any of his predecessors over the past quarter century.
* But there’s a hidden agenda behind the desire to get Rutherford’s travel schedule under a microscope. Take a deep breath first and remember that it’s high campaign season.
OK? Are you ready?
I’m really not, and I do this with great trepidation and anxiety, but here we go…
During each trip, Rutherford received his taxpayer-funded salary, as did his executive assistant, Josh Lanning. Lanning often travels with the treasurer, including on a personal excursion to Australia in 2011, which Rutherford has described as a “few weeks” in length in June of that year.
Fewer than two months later, Rutherford was in flight again, traveling to China, where he and his executive assistant spent 15 days. […]
“Most constitutional officers that are invited by another country, they have staffing that goes with them. Josh travels with the treasurer a lot, day in, day out,” Bragiel said. “He just works alongside the treasurer. He is an executive assistant to the treasurer and helps out with the day-to-day responsibilities with Treasurer Rutherford. I don’t think it’s unusual; most constitutional officers have staff with them.”
Photos on Rutherford’s Facebook page show the treasurer diving in the Red Sea, posing with Lanning next to the Wailing Wall in Israel as well as trekking through remote regions of the nation. […]
Lanning was not on work time but on “benefit time,” during the Australia trip, Olson said. Olson explained that as time given to newly hired employees who were allowed to transfer in previously earned vacation, sick or comp time on state time. […]
The office said two taxpayer-funded trips — on March 25-27, 2011, to Washington, D.C., and Sept. 15, 2011 to New York — are examples of Rutherford being so cognizant of travel expenses he shared hotel rooms with Lanning.
“As you know, anytime you go to New York or D.C., hotel rooms are outrageous,” said Kyle Ham, Rutherford’s chief of staff. “So decisions were deliberately made for Dan and his executive assistant, Josh, to double occupy.”
Ugly. Just freaking ugly.
* I’ve been thinking about this topic all weekend, and I’ve come to the conclusion that the best way to deal with it is head-on. The Rauner campaign was clearly trying to back-door some salacious allegations about Rutherford with that travel story. While I remain unconvinced that Rauner was behind the Cristine Svenson matter, I do believe he was at least partly behind the revelations in that Sun-Times story.
The thing is, knowing him as I do, I’m not sure that Rutherford really thought much of this stuff.
Constitutional officers really do travel with staff. And Rutherford is, indeed, quite cheap. And, for just about any other male candidate, bunking in the same room with another guy is absolutely no big deal.
* Plus, from all I know (and I’ve known about this “hotel story” for months), the travel aide is most definitely not having any sort of inappropriate or unprofessional relationship with Rutherford. Period. End of story. To even suggest otherwise is just way over the line. There is no there there.
Rutherford is an unmarried man, so that gives certain people license to spread lies about him. And in this case, at least, these are most definitely lies.