* I thought Treasurer Dan Rutherford’s performance at yesterday’s press conference was pretty good. But not all of his claims totally hold up.
For instance, this is from Rutherford’s press release…
Michalowski claims that he was harassed at “an overnight retreat” at the Treasurer’s home in Chenoa on April 2, 2011. However, a travel voucher submitted and signed by Michalowski for the date of April 2, 2011 shows he traveled home from Pontiac (not Chenoa) at 2 in the afternoon. Most importantly, contrary to his claim that he planned to stay the night and that he was harassed in the evening, the voucher indicates Michalowski returned to his residence in Chicago by 4 in the afternoon that day. An email written by Michalowski to another co-worker confirms that he traveled to Pontiac and returned home the same day.
In an interview with the Tribune, Michalowski acknowledged what the travel voucher showed but said he filled it out inaccurately at the time because he was embarrassed about what happened and Rutherford told him not to expense an overnight trip because they were going to be discussing politics.
Not expensing an overnight trip because of campaign work is common practice in government.
* Then again, some of the claims made by the accuser just seem bizarre. This is from Ed Michalowski’s lawsuit…
The stress and anxiety suffered by Plaintiff from Defendants’ conduct has manifested itself physically.
In November 2012, Plaintiff was admitted to the hospital with severe headaches. After numerous hospitalizations and tests, Plaintiff was diagnosed with leakage of cerebral spinal fluid in the brain for which he has undergone four blood patches and one occipital nerve block as a result of Defendants’ conduct.
Plaintiff has missed time from work for these hospitalizations throughout 2013 as a result of Defendants’ conduct.
Plaintiff has incurred over $100,000.00 in medical bills related to these hospital stays as a result of Defendants’ conduct.
Really? Dan Rutherford caused “leakage of cerebral spinal fluid”? I really find that hard to believe without any solid evidence.
* Back to Rutherford’s press release…
Michalowski has never suffered any demotion or decrease in salary, which was substantial; his $99,000 annual salary placed him among the six highest salaries at the treasurer’s office. He was never promised any promotion or position. The text messages produced to our office by Michalowski show continual civility, camaraderie, appreciation, and support from the treasurer and other co-workers for Michalowski and from Michalowski to the treasurer and other co-workers. This is true both pre- and post- the alleged harassment.
Michalowski also claims he was promoted twice – first from deputy director to director of community affairs and later to director of the merged community affairs and marketing departments – with no pay increase. His lawsuit claims his salary stayed the same throughout his tenure at the treasurer’s office.
Rutherford is pretty cheap, so that might explain it.
* Timing is also an issue. From Rutherford’s press release…
The alleged incidents of harassment started in 2011 and 2012, well beyond the statutes of limitations provided under state law and federal law for Equal Employment Opportunity claims. Only today does Michalowski raise incidents occurring in 2013 as a way to make these allegations seem timely. Like the timing of the claims, this is very convenient for Michalowski.
Likewise, the political activity is alleged to have primarily occurred in 2011 and 2012. Michalowski, like every Illinois State Treasurer’s Office employee, receives Ethics Training annually, and employees are instructed to report any allegations of prohibited political activity or other misconduct to the Office of Executive Inspector General. However, there is a one-year statute of limitations for the Office of Executive Inspector General to open investigations. These allegations were never reported to the Executive Inspector General at the tim
Sometimes, victims of these sorts of things just don’t act or speak up right away. It happens.
* And there’s the money angle…
Public records show that Michalowski is in the midst of an on-going bankruptcy proceeding in which Michalowski is delinquent in making payments as of May 2013, with a hearing scheduled on the delinquency for January 23, 2014—the date his attorney first contacted the Illinois State Treasurer’s Office. His home was foreclosed upon in April 2013. In October 2013, Michalowski filed for divorce.
Lots of people have had financial troubles, particularly those who go through divorces. That doesn’t make them dishonest.
* Finally, this allegation may have looked salacious at first…
On July 24, 2011, Treasurer’s Office employee and Rutherford political Chief of Staff Curt Conrad texted Plaintiff the following: “The treasurer specifically asked that you wear a tank top. Totally your decision if you want to ignore. I am just a messenger.”
* Rutherford’s response…
Details such as a July 24, 2011 text from a staffer that the treasurer asked that Michalowski wear a “tank top” are deliberately taken out of context. Michalowski provided to the treasurer’s office what he claims to be the entire string of texts, which shows that Michalowski was engaging in light-hearted conversation with the staffer about appropriate dress.
* The full exchange…
Curt: No coat and tie required tomorrow. Business casual fine.
Ed: What about my toupee, should I bring my business casual one?
Curt: The treasurer specifically asked that you wear a tank top. Totally your decision if you want to ignore. I am just a messenger.
Ed: OK. Sounds like a plan.
This is clearly all a joke. They don’t call Conrad “Monkey” for nothing.
However, there is most definitely a noticeable undercurrent here. Yes, this was in fun, but you don’t need a compass to know that the joke points in a definite direction.
* And this more than implies that Michalowski has a witness…
In December 2013, Rutherford allegedly went over to Michalowski at an office party, rubbed his shoulders and said to him, “You need a full body massage.”
“That was creepy,” said another person who witnessed what happened, according to the lawsuit.
* Dan Rutherford: ‘I’m going to continue on’
* Rutherford fires back at allegations of sexual harassment, political pressure
* Rutherford denies sex harassment charges: ‘This thing smells of politics’
* Rutherford Responds to Sexual Harassment Suit
* Former employee alleges Illinois treasurer sexually harassed him
* Rutherford denies sexual harassment, political coercion allegations in lawsuit filed by ex-employee