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Tuesday, Feb 4, 2014

* Erickson reaches back into the archives to rebut Dan Rutherford’s claims that his cleanliness has never been questioned in more than two decades in office

In 2002, while he was serving in the Illinois House, Rutherford used his campaign funds to buy a district office in Pontiac and then routinely paid workers in the office out of his state-paid account and his campaign fund.

The practice raised red flags with one watchdog group that said the arrangement could make it hard for voters to determine if there was a conflict of interest in the operation.

Rutherford, who was in the midst of a successful run for a seat in the Illinois Senate at the time, said his employees were not mixing politics with their taxpayer-funded duties. […]

At the time, analysts said the fact that Rutherford had co-mingled his campaign- and taxpayer-paid staff showed the lack of a strong “firewall” designed to ward off potential ethical problems.

Rutherford told The Pantagraph at the time that he had cleared the building arrangement with state election regulators, but a check of how other state lawmakers handled their district offices found few others who organized their offices in the same way.

Out of thousands of campaign funds in Illinois, the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform said only two other politicians were using a similar set-up.

Those other two were Rosemont Mayor Don Stephens and Cicero Town President Betty Loren Maltese.

Oops.

* However, it should be clearly noted here that using campaign funds to pay for state services is totally allowed under the law. State funds can’t pay for campaign activities, but people can use their campaign funds to subsidize public services. It actually saves state money if done properly and above board.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


17 Comments
  1. - Joan P. - Tuesday, Feb 4, 14 @ 2:04 pm:

    Not much of a rebuttal. Nothing there says that Rutherford’s cleanliness was questioned.

    That a legal activity, cleared by regulators, led ONE group to say it “might make it hard” to determine a conflict in no way is an accusation of “uncleanliness”.


  2. - walker - Tuesday, Feb 4, 14 @ 2:12 pm:

    Stephens and Maltese

    That’s some bad company!

    You don’t have to go too far back to see some concerning activities — using state money and staff to produce what looks a lot like campaign literature in the form of a Treasurer’s Report, and then distributing it to business owners and other groups who have been donors in the past. That’s near the boundary, if not over it.

    At least no one on the staff called to follow up on that mailing asking for support.

    And to be fair, those pieces looked a lot like a Giannoulias Treasurer’s Report, which we took to calling the “album”, because it had so many flattering photos of Alexi.


  3. - The Captain - Tuesday, Feb 4, 14 @ 2:27 pm:

    I had been told a number of times that Treasurer’s office employees routinely spend state employee work time at the campaign office in Pontiac. But I also assumed that some opponent’s oppo team would have figured out the right way to phrase a FOIA to find out for sure and if they’re not leaking that info now then maybe it isn’t true.


  4. - 4 percent - Tuesday, Feb 4, 14 @ 2:28 pm:

    Also not illegal to pay your sister and mom out of the campaign account but Dan’s done it for years. I’m sure his donors wanted to send hundreds of thousands to his family.


  5. - IbendahlLuvsJBT - Tuesday, Feb 4, 14 @ 2:41 pm:

    There is nothing wrong with using your campaign funds to pay your office staff a fair wage which the state doesn’t allow for.


  6. - Joe Citizen - Tuesday, Feb 4, 14 @ 2:47 pm:

    He didn’t use campaign funds for his & assistant’s educational excursions to Israel, Korea, & China. He & his exec assistant accepted those trips as gifts from special interest. So I feel much better now.


  7. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Feb 4, 14 @ 3:07 pm:

    Never heard the term “Supreme Clout” before. I’ll bet it’s a D thing. Rs probably just don’t have the power and influence right now. Right?


  8. - Just The Way It Is One - Tuesday, Feb 4, 14 @ 3:28 pm:

    Needless to say, it was an awfully “iffy” approach to utilizing an Official State Legislative Office in that way, and so very close to the border ethically, one must wonder aloud “Just WHY did Rutherford feel the need to DO it that way…?!” I mean, really, how hard is it to just set up separate Offices, one for Legislative reasons, and another strictly for Campaign purposes, when to do otherwise, like only THREE Lawmakers altogether, even remotely imPLIES the potential for shady behavior…? And for someone who thinks he’s in the position of being up to the task of being GOVernor, it ESPECIALLY just makes no sense…!


  9. - Chicago Cynic - Tuesday, Feb 4, 14 @ 3:29 pm:

    Sorry, but I really don’t see a problem with using campaign funds to supplement public service. I’m shocked that this is supposedly so rare as I know of others.


  10. - Smitty Irving - Tuesday, Feb 4, 14 @ 4:29 pm:

    Don Stephens? If you have spare time, search the archives of
    http://www.russstewart.com/russ-analysis.html
    He is the one who coined the expression “The Kingdom of Stephens” … . You’ll read about Capparelli and Roger McAuliffe (Mike’s father).


  11. - Percival - Tuesday, Feb 4, 14 @ 5:09 pm:

    “I had been told a number of times that Treasurer’s office employees routinely spend state employee work time at the campaign office in Pontiac.”

    So what? I’ve been told by people that Rauner’s campaign is in fact involved in this thing, and naming names. So what? Those statements proved nothing then and prove nothing now. Talk is cheap, and anyone can start that stuff.


  12. - mokenavince - Tuesday, Feb 4, 14 @ 6:15 pm:

    The new U.S. Attorney will have to look in this.
    Dan should call Loren-Maltese for advice, I’M sure she will give it.


  13. - woodchuck - Tuesday, Feb 4, 14 @ 7:36 pm:

    So let’s criticize a guy for using campaign funds to save the state money on a building? Does anyone know how much money a district office employee -one who handles both the gray areas of “official” and campaign requests in the same day makes? I’ll tell you in 1995 they made about $18,000 a year - maybe that much. These are college educated kids trying to make a start on the piddly allowance the General Assembly budget gives for district offices. If a legislator opts to increase that kid’s pay by a few thousand dollars a year to reflect the extra 10-20 hours a week they spend on what could be PERCEIVED as campaign efforts to avoid any complaint of doing campaign work on state time, really? Really. It’s not a taxpayer issue here. It’s a donor issue. The donors are the ones who need to decide if their donations were handled appropriately. It looks to me, based on this ridiculous article, that Rutherford saved the taxpayers money on his tiny little office in Pontiac, Illinois. The real question is not in who owns their own district offices - it’s on who owns the offices that are leased - leased - and then tie the state dollars being paid for legislative office space to the landlords and see where the connections are. There’s no story here.


  14. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Feb 4, 14 @ 7:54 pm:

    OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    If you CONNECT THE DOTS doesn’t this PROVE that Dan Rutherford and Dan Proft know each other???????

    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  15. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Feb 4, 14 @ 7:57 pm:

    =The donors are the ones who need to decide if their donations were handled appropriately….There’s no story here.”

    I will be sending a request to have my donation back.


  16. - Arthur Andersen - Tuesday, Feb 4, 14 @ 9:57 pm:

    Back in the day, Stan Weaver wanted to have his Senate office at his funeral home to save the State money. He wasn’t going to charge the State rent or anything-just put in a side door or the like. His reaction when told he had to rent space to avoid the appearance of a conflict would get me banned here.


  17. - Anon - Tuesday, Feb 4, 14 @ 9:59 pm:

    I’ve known Dan for many years, and dealt with him on many issues. He was always completely ethical and thoughtful. Class act through and through. I believe everyone who has dealt with him knows this. Terrible that his ethics are being challenged in this low-ball way. He deserves better, and so does Illinois.


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