Illinois State Treasurer Dan Rutherford regularly stayed overnight in hotels and a Chicago apartment with his executive assistant, The Chicago Tribune reported on Wednesday.
Rutherford, who is also a Republican candidate for governor, told the Tribune the practice was a way to save money during campaign travel.
“We double-bunk in the campaign,” Rutherford told the newspaper. “We always double-bunk when we can. Totally as a cost-saving measure.”
The news of Rutherford’s rooming practices comes the same week that he was sued for sexual harassment by a former top deputy in his office. The former employee, Edmund Michalowski, on Monday filed a lawsuit in federal court accusing Rutherford of sexually harassing him and “pressuring him to perform political work on state time,” according to the Tribune. Among other things, Michalowski accused Rutherford of repeatedly “hitting on” him. Rutherford has denied the accusations.
According to the Tribune, Rutherford and his executive assistant, Joshua Lanning, stayed together in a studio apartment in Chicago at least 50 times between 2011 and mid-2012. During that period, the two also billed the state for at least six hotel rooms they stayed in while traveling on state business. Lanning also accompanied Rutherford on three foreign trips he has taken as state treasurer, as well as on a private trip to Australia to visit Rutherford’s nephew.
“There’s nothing wrong with being friends with employees,” Rutherford said. “I consider myself friends with many in the office.”
Rutherford said he had not shared a room with any employees besides Lanning, who began working for him in 2009. Lanning became Rutherford’s executive assistant in 2011, and has since received a 50 percent bump in pay, which Rutherford explained by saying that Lanning had taken on additional duties.
After the Tribune interviewed Rutherford about his travel arrangements, his chief of staff, Kyle Ham, told the newspaper that a 2013 internal audit had found that the treasurer had incorrectly billed the state for three of the trips during which he shared rooms with Lanning. Rutherford then wrote a personal check to the state to cover those expenses.
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