Illinois state treasurer and gubernatorial candidate Dan Rutherford, one of the few Republicans to hold statewide office, is facing new accusations that he had inappropriate relationships with male subordinates. One manager sued Rutherford for sexual harassment Monday, and on Wednesday new allegations surfaced about Rutherford’s practice of sharing a hotel room with a junior staffer while traveling. Both staffers are male.
Rutherford has denied the allegations, and has suggested that one of his Republican opponents, frontrunner Bruce Rauner, is connected to a campaign of vilification against him. “We always double-bunk when we can. Totally as a cost-saving measure,” Rutherford said, according to the Chicago Tribune.
There is no evidence of a sexual relationship between Rutherford and the staffer with whom he is alleged to have shared hotel rooms.
Cost-cutting has long been a theme for Rutherford, and his ideas have included some unusual proposals in the past. In his 2010 campaign for state treasurer, Rutherford proposed merging his office with that of the state comptroller, now held by fellow Republican Judy Baar Topinka. The idea was popular enough in the deficit-ridden state to attract media attention at the time, though it is not clear whether it was ever taken seriously.
The sexual harassment accusations now before a federal court in Chicago include claims that Rutherford had “grabbed at” the plaintiff’s “genital area,” among other lurid allegations, and that other staffers had experienced similar treatment.
Rutherford was once seen as one of the brightest stars in a bleak state Republican party. Regardless of the outcome of the lawsuit, his path to earning the party nomination will now be an uphill one.