Whether accusations in a federal lawsuit filed by a former underling are true or false, state treasurer Dan Rutherford has a big mess that may take more than five weeks to clean up, in the opinion of a University of Illinois political science professor. Springfield-based Kent Redfield commented on the story of Ed Michalowski's suit accusing Rutherford of sexual harassment and political coercion.
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Michalowski said Rutherford made advances upon him and also pressured him to do political work on state time, all of which Rutherford is denying. Redfield says if this hurts Rutherford, it benefits Bruce Rauner, the self-described “outsider” in the race. “This plays into Rauner's narrative that you need to have a non-politician” as governor, Redfield says.
Another problem for Rutherford, Redfield says, is with a history of bad actors either on the ballot or actually in office, voters may be scared off, especially with uncertainty over how many other allegations may surface before November.
The story has taken over the campaign, says Redfield. “There's going to be a debate coming up in Springfield next week, and it's going to be difficult to focus on what the state's problems are and who can best solve them when you've got these sorts of allegations flying around.”