Capitol - Your Illinois News Radar » Behind the screaming headlines
SUBSCRIBE to Capitol Fax      Advertise Here      Mobile Version     Exclusive Subscriber Content     Updated Posts    Contact
To subscribe to Capitol Fax, click here.
Behind the screaming headlines

Wednesday, Jun 29, 2011

* The Associated Press often acts like a giant blogger by repackaging stories into little briefs. Too often, though, those briefs skew the story. For instance, this story is headlined: “Insiders got early notice of college savings deal”

People with connections to the Illinois treasurer’s office got early notice of a limited offer that added cash to college savings accounts, giving them an edge over thousands of people who were shut out of the deal.

Treasurer Dan Rutherford tells the Chicago Tribune that early word was sent out solely as a promotion because officials weren’t sure the new offer would be popular. Rutherford says it was a mistake that won’t happen again.

The offer was for the Bright Start savings program. People could deposit up to $250 and have that money matched by the firm running the program.

* You already know the back story. Bright Start’s administrator, Oppenheimer Funds, sent out 100,000 letters to the college savings program participants on May 31st offering to match their next $250 contribution. Trouble is, the offer was limited to the first 2,500 people and about 8,500 people took up the offer by going to the plan’s website. But the website wasn’t changed to reflect the fact that the money had dried up until a day after all the cash was spoken for, which left some folks quite angry.

* The Tribune reports that Rutherford’s office sent its workers an e-mail the same day Oppenheimer mailed the letters from New Jersey, giving Rutherford’s employees a clear head start on everyone else. That was obviously a bad move. The e-mail encouraged the employees to forward the offer to their friends and family. Not good, either.

* However, Rutherford’s employees were not eligible for the matching funds, according to the Tribune’s report. That little factoid was buried deep within the Trib’s story, which was headlined “Family, friends got head start in Bright Start match - Treasurer’s office employees were sent email about $250 program before general public received letters.”

The workers’ friends and family were eligible, of course, but the Tribune could only find “about 25 people” who were forwarded the e-mails from state accounts. Not great, but hardly a gigantic scandal.

The Tribune also noted that the Bright Start website announced the program on May 27th - days before anybody was notified by e-mail or snail mail.

And, despite what the AP claims, Rutherford himself was never quoted by the Tribune as saying “early word was sent out solely as a promotion because officials weren’t sure the new offer would be popular.” That comment was attributed by the Trib to an official at his office.

* Whether this was just another stupid bungle or something more nefarious, this whole thing has become a PR disaster for Rutherford, who obviously thought the stunt would be popular

Doran Phillips, who has a savings account for his 31/2-year-old son, said he still hasn’t received the promotional letter and feels cheated out of $250.

“It was just a screw-up, but still it had a bad consequence,” said Phillips, of Palos Park. “They are giving away this money and couldn’t give it away in a fair and responsible manner. They devised a method of giving it away that was totally unfair unless you happen to be one of the lucky people.”

The $625,000 for the promotion came from Oppenheimer Funds, which manages Bright Start, as part of its contract with the state to pay for scholarships. Oppenheimer was responsible for mailing the letters and updating the website, treasurer’s office officials have said.

The promotion was open to existing account holders who made a one-time special contribution. Account holders who coincidentally made a donation at the beginning of the month, even if it was unrelated to the promotion, received the match.

Unfortunately for Rutherford, the TV ads about this will write themselves.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 1:47 pm:

    When did you want to combine those two constitutional offices?

    Your options are either wearing the boxers three days or going commando… That is, if you aren’t doing so already…

  2. - Kyle Hillman - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 2:01 pm:

    “…the TV ads about this will write themselves.”

    I am thinking a nice photo of a kid who can’t afford college funds…

  3. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 2:04 pm:

    Kyle, the headlines will be even better. Perhaps laid on top of that photo. Better yet, worried-looking middle class parents.

  4. - How Ironic - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 2:06 pm:


    Nice job Dan.

  5. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 2:10 pm:

    Geez, nobody thought to say this is a bad idea?

  6. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 2:22 pm:

    Factoid originally meant untrue fact, and now sometimes means trivial but true fact. I think that the employee’s ineligibility is not trivial for purposes of the story.

  7. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 2:22 pm:

    It was meant ironically, Anonymous.

  8. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 2:25 pm:

    Sorry, slow today.

  9. - Vote Quimby! - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 2:50 pm:

    ==officials weren’t sure the new offer would be popular==
    Yeah, “free money” is always hard to sell. Most important question: did the letters have “Illinois” spelled correctly?

  10. - Anon - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 3:26 pm:

    I don’t normally comment, but I would like the Treasurer’s office to know that I will be pulling my money out of Bright Start and putting it in a traditional college savings fund. I was one of the suckers that took $250 out of my own savings account because I thought it would be matched. I no longer have faith in any political office to manage my long term investments. I encourage others to comment on this issue because I know the Treasurer’s office reads this blog.

  11. - Coach - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 3:40 pm:

    You could have some fun with a mail piece juxtaposing this debacle with the recent pic of Rutherford accepting the gigantic check from investors.

    “Even as Dan Rutherford chased the affection of millionaire investors, he made sure insiders had the first shot at financial incentives through his office,” or something to that effect.

  12. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 3:42 pm:

    Apparently, that check was superimposed on the photo. Not his fault.

  13. - Coach - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 3:52 pm:

    Also, does anybody believe that Rutherford had no knowledge of the email to staffers before hearing about it from the Trib?

    C’mon, that’s just not plausible. This whole program was obviously designed to boost his political profile; I can’t imagine he didn’t directly participate in detailed discussions about the rollout.

    Good thing he has a large contingent of taxpayer-paid press secretaries at his disposal. This story probably will last a while …

  14. - Vote Quimby! - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 4:02 pm:

    ==Apparently, that check was superimposed on the photo. Not his fault.==
    I missed the update on that one. Thanks for the correct info.

  15. - bored now - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 4:05 pm:

    well, since rutherford is running for governor, he may not care. especially if he can convince everyone to combine the offices…

  16. - steve schnorf - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 4:08 pm:

    Rutherford is a good guy and a good Treasurer. If this little tempest in a teapot is the most bad news about his first year in office, he will have had a good first year

  17. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 4:35 pm:

    @Schnorf -

    Rutherford is a good guy. The jury is still out on whether he’s a good Treasurer.

    1. This “tempest in a teapot.”

    2. Threatening to tell folks not to buy Illinois bonds, undermining our creditworthiness.

    3. Flip-flopping on borrowing.

    One thing’s for sure. He can’t use the “We may be incompetent, but we’re not corrupt” defense in a run against Pat Quinn.

    I’m all for giving Rutherford the benefit of the doubt on this one. But the voters have largely run out of “Benefit of the Doubt” I think.

  18. - jerry 101 - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 5:11 pm:

    What I don’t get is why the State Treasurer’s office is still doing business with Oppenheimer in the first place. Oppenheimer managed the funds that got Giannoulias in so much hot water, now they were managing this promotion.

    Maybe Oppenheimer needs a new slogan:
    “Oppenheimer…working undertime to wreck your State Treasurer’s political career.”

  19. - Tom Joad - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 5:27 pm:

    Rutherford has been spending so much time on trying to get national press, campaigning with Mitt Romney and critizing Quinn that he forgot he was elected to watch over our money. Using the Treasurer’s office as a steppingstone to highher office, like his predecessor, results in little attention to the job he was hired to do.
    His absurd press release about how Illinois could file bankruptcy shows how little he knows about bankruptcy laws and Illinios. It can’t happen.

  20. - Phineas J. Whoopee - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 5:37 pm:

    A political office should not be administering savings plans. It is a recipe for disaster but at the very least the investors should have to go through an financial advisor who could explain the plan. With Bright Start their stuck with a bureaucrat and a website.

  21. - CircularFiringSquad - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 6:24 pm:

    Let’s also always remember the Tribbies continue their fruitless efforts to win major journalism awards for their breathless reporting of anythin college related. They are still batting zero — except of B. Joe White, but there is no iron in the trophy case. What a shame

  22. - Old Milwaukee - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 6:36 pm:

    When it’s all over, this will be a blip.

  23. - LincolnLounger - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 8:50 pm:

    Whether this is a blip or not depends on how he handles it. The “advance” e-mail was sent by one of his hires and longest-standing personal friends.

    Dan is one of the few bright spots for the Republican Party. I wish him well; however, at some point, the campaigning has to end and administration begin. Instead of memos to employees about the proper pronunciation of his last name and script for answering the office phone, perhaps the details of programs, administration, and ethics are in order.

  24. - King Louis XVI - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 10:25 pm:

    Rutherford is so busy running to every editorial board and every po-dunk radio station and every press conference that he can that he is not focused on the job.

    Look at his Facebook page. He’s always boasting about every time he’s behind a microphone.

    Moreover, Rutherford posted on Facebook that he was on a plane to Australia on June 1 when this whole thing started to unfold.

  25. - just sayin' - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 10:38 pm:

    It was all Pongee’s fault.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

* Even more shenanigans!
* More shenanigans!
* Saturday campaign money report
* *** UPDATED x2 *** Shenanigans!
* Tribune drops bombshell on Biss running mate
* Reader comments closed for the weekend
* Rauner: "Madigan has rigged the Democratic primary for Pritzker"
* New Ives radio ad claims Democrats are trying to help Rauner, while Brady does Rauner robocall
* *** UPDATED x1 - DGA responds *** Elections board says DGA should file disclosure for Ives ad
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY: Jones; IEA/IFT; Reis; Mitchell; Edgar
* ISRA, Drury both try to claim Raoul inserted "poison pill" into gun bill
* Pro-life group launches GOTV effort for Lipinski
* *** UPDATED x1 *** Rauner opens new online track against Ives
* Erika Harold still can't remember comments, but says "I was wrong"
* Rauner calls Madigan "a unified force of bad, of evil"
* Sen. Duckworth gets involved in another state central committee race
* *** UPDATED x2 *** Has Pritzker gone to ground?
* Illinois House Bill HB 4900 Wastes Government Resources
* McCann, barred from SGOP caucus meeting, claims Rauner threatened to "destroy you and your family"
* *** UPDATED x1 *** Caption contest!
* Obama mailer kerfuffle in Lipinski district
* Rauner attended Quincy campaign event after Quincy veterans' home presser
* After spending millions in Dem primary, Rauner accuses "Washington liberals" of "hijacking" the GOP primary
* Yesterday's stories

Visit our advertisers...








* Race to the bottom: voters puzzled by primary s.....
* Exclusive: New Poll Released 2 Days Prior to El.....
* Pols back Gong-Gershowitz - Evanston Now..
* Illinois teachers union says 17th District stat.....
* Awaiting Supreme Court decision on gambling, pr.....
* The Sunday Spin: Politics with Rick Pearson Ful.....
* The primary election is Tuesday. Here’s what yo.....
* Daniel Biss holds campaign rally at Bottom Loun.....
* Q & A with Illinois Gubernatorial Candidates - .....
* Illinois governor race more fierce, costly as p.....

* Security of state voter rolls a concern as primaries begin
* Judge sides with inmate on prosthetic leg, toilet access
* Illinois primary puts focus on security of state voter rolls
* City of Chicago increasing security at Millennium Park
* Effort underway in Kane County to save 1854 schoolhouse
* Holcomb signs bill to replenish eroded NW Indiana beaches
* EXCHANGE: Historian doesn't want hero's story lost
* EXCHANGE: Losing a limb has not handicapped Pekin bowler
* Illinois governor race more fierce, costly as primary nears
* Judge gives FBI more time in alleged serial killer case

* As primaries loom, downstate Democrats look for a way back
* Pritzker defends putting $69.5 million of his fortune into campaign
* Illinois governor race more fierce, costly as primary nears
* Madigan backs Dem central committee incumbent in 13th
* Trump factor looms large in Illinois governor primary campaigns
* Ray LaHood brokers deal for O'Hare expansion
* McCann says Rauner threatened to 'destroy' him in 2015 over vote
* Rauner looking into state buying vacant nursing home in Quincy
* Luciano: What if Downstate dumped Chicago and formed new state?
* AP review: Push for gun laws faces resistance in most states

* Crain's tells the stories of women in business
* Like our roundup? Share it around.
* Amazon search team in Chicago next week
* Amazon HQ2 search team visiting Chicago March 21-22
* Pension mess? You'd hardly know it from 2018's gubernatorial candidates.

* Garage fire leaves Palatine house uninhabitable
* Portage Park intersection, once a shopping mecca, could be turning the corner
* Running tab for DOJ investigation of CPD: $7.4 million and counting
* Mock Draft 4.0: Predicting 32 picks – a Bears surprise – after trades, signings
* Dr. T. Berry Brazelton, influential pediatrician, advice columnist, dead at 99
* Here are the questions for Tuesday — the answers are up to you
* Sean Bean on his many deaths and ‘Game of Thrones’ legacy
* Man shot in Gage Park
* Sun-Times/WBBM Religion Roundup: Anti-Semitic incidents in Illinois up sharply
* 2 wounded in shooting on Dan Ryan

* Turtle racing's had a long, slow burn in Chicago
* Tyrek's take: Cooper says North Chicago played 'for pride' in placing fourth in the state
* U.S. and British lawmakers demand answers from Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg
* Controversy-free spring was just what the White Sox needed
* Turkey forces capture Syrian Kurdish town of Afrin
* Russia votes but outcome is clear: 6 more years of Putin
* Trump rails against Mueller investigation, dismisses McCabe's notes as 'Fake Memos'
* Illinois recruit Ayo Dosunmu leads Morgan Park to second straight Class 3A state title
* NFC North gets a makeover during frenzied start to free agency
* 7 shot overnight, 1 fatally, including 2 cousins

» A Feisty Debate, Offshore Accounts — And Some Side-Eye
» WBEZ’s Chicago and Illinois News Roundup: March 16, 2018
» The Week in Review: Pritzker Slammed Over Offshore Holdings
» Web Extra, The Week in Review: American Airlines Changes Stance
» How Parking Ticket Debt Punishes Black Drivers In Chicago; The Best Illinois Movies
» State Week: Rauner's Gun Veto; Dem's Mean Debate
» #642 Songs About the Music Industry & Antibalas
» March 15, 2018 - Full Show
» Illinois Has Issues: Gov Candidates Talk Marijuana
» Rauner: Replace Legionnaires’-Stricken VA Home With New ‘Ultra-Modern’ Facility

* As primaries loom, downstate Democrats look for a way back
* Pritzker defends putting $69.5 million of his fortune into campaign
* Statehouse Insider: Sadly, the primary campaign is coming to an end
* Bernard Schoenburg: My predictions for Tuesday's primary election
* Our View: A recap of The State Journal-Register’s endorsements
* Bernard Schoenburg: Guessing who will be celebrating Tuesday night
* Madeleine Doubek: Time to end gerrymandering in Illinois
* United Way: Reporting results that matter
* Illinois governor race more fierce, costly as primary nears
* Madigan backs Dem central committee incumbent in 13th

* Photos: St. Patrick's Day in the Quad-Cities
* Illinois 200 | The Daley family legacy runs deep in Illinois, Chicago
* PFOP: Local minister became well-known newspaper columnist
* SIUC faculty will present research 'lightning' talks next week
* Public art could provide 'wow' for the riverfront
* Alexander County enters utility deal with SmartWatt that could save the county
* The primary election is Tuesday. Here's what you need to know before you vote.
* Authorities still trying to identify man killed by MetroLink train in East St. Louis
* Good cause, fellowship, food draws thousands to Mennonite Relief Sale
* Significant Structures: Burnham Athenaeum

* UK lawmaker: Facebook misled Parliament over data leak risk
* Northeast snowstorms give ski areas late season powder blast
* Lawyers: Execution could be 'gruesome' due to rare condition
* APNewsBreak: Some wanted Florida suspect committed in 2016
* The Latest: 2 GOP senators: Judiciary should review firing

* 14th Democratic hopefuls talk guns at Bata...
* Primary candidates vie for Democratic nomi...
* 14th District candidates agree: Global war...
* ICOs Draw Fire at US Congressional Hearing...
* What to Expect When Congress Talks ICOs To...
* 7 Democrats talk strategy for winning Tues...
* Letter: Stripped state's rights - Northwes...
* 14th District Dems voice opinions on immig...
* Time to shape up security clearance proces...
* Time to shape up security clearance proces...

* Bipartisan lawmakers defend Mueller amid T......
* Hillary Clinton 'wrong' about Trump voters......
* Durbin blasts Trump for 'desperate and rec......
* Durbin Slams Clinton for Remarks About 'Ba......
* US Senator Durbin: No government shutdown ......

* Zinke defends use of Japanese word: How co......
* Congolese mother and child finally reunite......
* Schatz to convene field hearing on false m......
* Congolese mother arrives in Chicago, still......
* Duckworth on Zinke's improper use of Japan......

* Our antiweed governor better take note: downstate is also going to pot
* Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers’ election interviews.
* This week.
* Tucker: Washington not worried about male wage crisis
* State of the Legal Industry: A Leading Innovator Concludes that Inefficiency Prevails
* Wednesday, March 14, 2018
* Monday, 3/12/2018
* Online University Programs and Microcredentials Enhance Professional Learning
* AI is the new electricity, says Coursera’s Andrew Ng
* Bolstering Academic Integrity in the Online Classroom

* February Flooding Information
* IEMA Urges People to Prepare for Severe Weather
* Governor issues state disaster proclamation for flooding in Iroquois, Kankakee, Vermilion Counties
* Winter Storm Warnings for Areas Along and North of I-80
* IEMA Encourages People to Prepare for Earthquakes

* Twitter is reportedly planning to ban cryptocurrency ads
* Facebook Lite debuts in major markets from US to New Zealand
* Tinder’s parent company is suing Bumble for patent infringement
* People are accidentally setting off Apple’s Emergency SOS alert
* How advertisers can stay afloat after net neutrality is gone
* The robot dogs I have loved the most
* 15 best Android launcher apps of 2018!

* Spring Stats Glance
* White Sox announce James Shields as Opening Day starter, because of...
* Cool with No. 2? Avi paces Sox 5-2 win
* Lefty Ross making case for bullpen spot
* Shields honored to be Opening Day starter
* Shields honored to be Opening Day starter
* Shields to start for White Sox on Opening Day

Main Menu
Pundit rankings
Subscriber Content
Blagojevich Trial
Updated Posts

March 2018
February 2018
January 2018
December 2017
November 2017
October 2017
September 2017
August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004

Blog*Spot Archives
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005


RSS Feed 2.0
Comments RSS 2.0

Hosted by MCS SUBSCRIBE to Capitol Fax Advertise Here Mobile Version Contact Rich Miller