Since announcing his run for governor, Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford has been fighting rumors he's gay and sexually inappropriate with his male staffers. Those rumors worsened today after his key accuser revealed his identity and filed a detail-rich civil rights suit in federal court.
The man who filed the suit, Ed Michalowski, served as Rutherford's "director of community affairs and marketing" and says he spent three years facing sexual harassment from his Republican boss—and so did many other coworkers. (Michalowski resigned last week amid fear of retaliation.)
Here are some of the lawsuit's more eyebrow-raising allegations, "including incidents at a Springfield bar, during the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., and at an office party," according to the Chicago Sun-Times:
In August of 2011, at D.H. Brown's, a bar in Springfield, Michalowski alleges that Rutherford approached him and said: "If you go home with me you can have anything you want in the office."
In another instance, the lawsuit alleges that Michalowski and Rutherford were attending the Republican National Convention in Tampa in August 2012 when Rutherford asked Michalowski to go up to his hotel room.
When Michalowski refused, Rutherford allegedly became angry and said: "You just said no to the treasurer," according to the lawsuit.
In December 2013, Rutherford allegedly went over to Michalowski at an office party, rubbed his shoulders and said to him, "You need a full body massage."
"That was creepy," said another person who witnessed what happened, according to the lawsuit.
Gawker reported last week that Rutherford was facing scrutiny over his relationship with another staffer, 28-year-old assistant Joshua Lanning. The duo spent 32 days abroad together on work-related trips that no other staffers attended.
Lanning turned up in Michalowski's complaint, as well. On returning from that awkward RNC trip last year, Michalowski had divulged the encounter to Rutherford's chief of staff, Kyle Ham, who is also named as a defendant.
Ham said he, too, had been harassed, adding: "At least we have job security." But that wasn't all, according to the lawsuit:
Ham told Plaintiff that he was "not a team player." Ham also informed him that "Josh Lanning has the worst job and you should feel lucky."
On the surface, Lanning's job looked pretty cool: His office responsibilities seemed light, and he got to go to Australia, China, South Korea, and Israel for free with his boss. Whatever made Ham consider Lanning's job to be "the worst," it must have been quite significant.
[Photo credit: AP]