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.

* Reader comments closed for the weekend
* Brady makes some unusual appointments to discrimination and harassment task force
* Pritzker sues endorser, deletes ad she appeared in
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Candidate announcement
* Best tweet of the day
* Question of the day
* Roskam race moved to "Toss Up" by Cook Political Report
* Kennedy lashes out at Emanuel, while Pritzker takes a softer approach
* Rauner refuses to weigh in on federal tax legislation
* Reports: Former Munger firm gets $12.5 million no-bid contract after a $12 million payment was frozen by Mendoza
* "Every time I see a little kid waving I always try to wave back"
* Londrigan, EMILY's List stand by their false statements
* In praise of Mary Ann Ahern
* George Will: Illinois "approaching a death spiral"
* Rauner urged to sign education funding "cleanup" bill
* Republican Party wants Durbin, Duckworth to give away Franken's cash
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today's edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)
* Open thread
* Yesterday's stories

Visit our advertisers...





* In Illinois, a looming battle over the bankrupt.....
* In Illinois, a looming battle over the bankrupt.....
* WILL: All eyes turn to Illinois for an importan.....
* Illinois stares down a 'death spiral' - Charles.....
* George Will: In Illinois, a looming battle over.....

* Police dog to regularly search public schools in Springfield
* U of I student has been named a Rhodes Scholar
* Backers hope Route 66 historic designation can drive tourism
* Lurie recognized for approach to managing pain in children
* Decatur Police investigate shooting death
* Illinois man's memory to live on with Rose Parade float
* Father, son travel around the US repairing handbells
* 80 percent of debris dump sites high in toxins
* AP Exclusive: 4 in 5 Illinois debris sites high in toxins
* AP Exclusive: 4 in 5 Illinois debris sites high in toxins

* House task force to review sexual harassment
* Electric cars, better fuel efficiency spell doom for Illinois gas tax
* Springfield wants out of legislation limiting payments for 5G antennas
* Fact check: Are Gov. Rauner's grandparents immigrants?
* Londrigan accused of attacking Davis for 'opposite' of remarks
* Gov. Rauner signs sex harassment legislation
* Under the Dome Podcast: Governor's race, sexual harassment, Rodney Davis
* Macoupin Co. highway renamed in honor of soldier who died in Vietnam
* Macoupin Co. highway renamed in honor of solder who died in Vietnam
* Schoenburg: Rep. Davis leads new caucus, pleased with White House access

* Like our roundup? Share it around.
* Here's how Baker McKenzie profits from offshore tax system
* Cards Against Humanity works to maintain its naughtiness
* The either/or world of Cards Against Humanity: Funny or Die
* Why do people give? Not for the tax break.

* The exciting Land of the Dead is where ‘Coco’ really comes to life
* Person injured in ‘cooking accident’ at Crystal Lake South High School
* Halsey connects with fans in sold-out Allstate Arena concert
* Charles Manson, whose cult slayings horrified the world, has died
* Dear Abby: Boyfriend in his 20s lacks driver’s license
* Georgia Nicols horoscopes for Nov. 20, 2017
* Perfect night for the Bulls as far as the business of tanking
* Ask the Doctors: Death from Guillan-Barre Syndrome raises questions
* 10-year-old boy and girl, 13, missing from same block in Lake View
* Body of canoeist recovered from Indiana lake 3 weeks after capsizing

* Negan's back, and he's not so bad! 'The Walking Dead' season 8 episode 5 recap
* Charles Manson, mastermind of 1969 murders, dies at 83
* Police: Boy and girl, 10 and 13, found after being reported missing from Lakeview
* Musicians unite at AMAs in wake of tumultuous year
* Lauri Markkanen shines, but Bulls falter against Suns in 113-105 loss
* Kicked when they’re down, Bears long on excuses, short on progress
* Bills benching Tyrod Taylor for rookie Nathan Peterman was a bad idea from the start
* After latest loss, it's OK to be as tough on Mitch Trubisky as he is on himself
* Rape in the storage room. Groping at the bar. Why is the restaurant industry so terrible for women?
* No. 20 Northwestern gets thumped by Texas Tech 85-49

» State Week: Are Voters Thinking About 2018?
» Legislative Checklist: Veto Session
» How 3 Women Want To Make Illinois’ Political Future Female
» Illinois Supreme Court Weighing Seizure Of Woman’s Harley
» Illinois Supreme Court Weighing Seizure Of Woman's Harley
» Statehouse Ethical Issues Might Need Outside Oversight, Legislators Say
» Prosecutor: No More Indictments In Laquan McDonald Shooting
» Metra Board OKs Budget With Service Cuts, Fare Hikes In 2018
» For Illinois Sex Offenders, Six Years Can Turn Into Life In Prison
» State Week: Harassment Training, Veto Wins And Losses, Late Payments

* House task force to review sexual harassment
* Rex Huppke: Moment of reckoning for swinish behavior is here
* George Will: In Illinois, a looming battle over the bankrupting 'blue model'
* Bernard Schoenburg: Ives says Rauner joined 'ruling class' he was to fight
* Statehouse Insider: Republican primary for governor underway
* Doubek: For harassment and beyond, Springfield needs stronger accountability
* Jim Dixon: It is time for a fair tax for Illinois
* Our View: It’s time for decision on YWCA block
* Electric cars, better fuel efficiency spell doom for Illinois gas tax
* Ed Rogers: A Clinton special counsel won't help Republicans in 2018

* Quarters One welcomes public to Christmas teas, tours
* RDA awards more than $1 million to Quad-City organizations
* The Salvation Army seeks Angel Tree donations
* Construction begins on $2.9 million Mount Zion water tower; fall 2018 finish date
* Underwood: 'Excited for our growth today'
* Nichols: 'Got to play 40 minutes of basketball'
* UI Men's Basketball vs Marshall
* Alive and helping to brighten Thanksgiving for others
* LIVE! Marshall

* Charles Manson, whose cult slayings horrified world, dies
* Lonzo Ball's triple-double sends Lakers past Denver, 127-109
* Gibson stops 50 shots in Ducks' 3-2 win over Panthers
* Wentz, Eagles roll over Cowboys 37-9 after losing kicker
* EU diplomat encourages stabilizing troubled Myanmar state

* Hultgren whishes McHenry County College a ...
* Hultgren and Ruppersberger: Protect infras...
* US lawmakers urge Trump to prod Rody on dr...
* Rep. Randy Hultgren congratulates McHenry ...
* 3 suburban GOP reps provide crucial votes ...
* Panel encourages women to consider careers...
* Geneva Chamber honors Gaines for 40 years ...
* DOJ to ban US lawmakers should Duterte ord...
* US lawmakers to Duterte: 'Sovereignty does...
* Local Congressmen React to the Passage of ...

* This RSS feed URL is deprecated...
* Daniels addresses senator's claims about K......

* This RSS feed URL is deprecated...

* What should we think of homicide tally – on the rise, decline or nonsense?
* GWNA To Hold Block Club Meeting On December 2nd
* Man Missing From Uptown, Age 39
* I’m voting against Joe Berrios, but I don’t know why I should have to.
* Show some gratitude, people.
* Youth Open Mic Night on Friday, December 1st
* Chicago high school students salute Harold Washington as his hearse passes. December, 1987.
* Sunday week in review.
* Dollar Tree Coming To Former Unique Thrift Store Location?
* All Aboard! Open House Sunday Afternoon At Uptown's Model Railroad Club

* Illinois Awarded Funds to Offer Advanced Training on Detecting Impaired Driving
* Illinois EPA Announces Upcoming Household Hazardous Waste Collection Events
* IEMA Highlights Emergency Preparedness for People with Access and Functional Needs in May - Ready Illinois website offers preparedness tips for people, caregivers
* First Lady Launches Illinois Family Connects
* Governor and Lt. Governor Unveil 2016 Journal of Local Government Shared Service Best Practices

* Razer Phone sold out at Microsoft Store, may hit Asia-Pacific soon
* Nintendo Sets 'Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp' Release Date for November 22
* Qualcomm takeover of NXP to be approved by Japan, EU
* Best Buy takes 75 percent off LG G6 on Sprint
* Android Oreo and OxygenOS 5.0 finally pushed to OnePlus 3, 3T
* Amazon takes $100 off Moto X4 Prime Exclusive edition
* Sprint Black Friday deals now include Essential Phone for $145

* White Sox Arizona Fall League recap
* Sporcle Saturday: Top player performances
* LIVE: MLB Awards unveiled on Network
* White Sox face roster call on Clarkin, 6 more
* Thyago Vieira brings missing heat to White Sox bullpen battle
* MLB Awards grand finale (7 CT, MLB Network)
* White Sox trade for hard-throwing Vieira

Main Menu
Pundit rankings
Subscriber Content
Blagojevich Trial
Updated Posts

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