Rutherford held a Chicago news conference today, where he told reporters that the lawyer of an employee approached his office and demanded a $300,000 settlement to keep the allegations against him quiet. Rutherford refused to reveal what the employee is accusing him of, saying his lawyer advised him not to reveal the details or the employee’s identity. “Let me make this very clear: There is absolutely no truth to the allegations. No factual support or merit,” he said in Chicago.
The employee’s lawyer, Christine Svenson, has ties to Rauner’s campaign, and Rutherford claims he is being set up by Rauner. But Rauner’s campaign staff says he had nothing to do with the allegations. “Treasurer Rutherford should spend his time answering the serious claims made against him by a state employee rather than trying to distract attention with false claims against us,” Mike Schrimpf, spokesman for Rauner’s campaign, said in a prepared statement. They said Rutherford’s campaign lawyer recommended Svenson and that she only worked for the campaign briefly. “The campaign hired Ms. Svenson to review and edit our office space lease last spring because our regular attorney had a conflict of interest with the landlord. We paid her a one-time fee of $3,500 for that service and never discussed anything with her related to the treasurer.”
Rutherford said he has internally investigated the issue and that he is also initiated an external review.