State Treasurer Dan Rutherford routinely roomed overnight in hotels and a Chicago apartment with a low-level treasurer's office employee whom he has given a 50 percent pay hike, raising questions about the workplace judgment of the Republican candidate for governor.
Rutherford said he has shared a room with his executive assistant, Joshua Lanning, scores of times since taking office in 2011, a practice he says is a way to save money for his campaign fund.
"We double-bunk in the campaign," Rutherford said. "We always double-bunk when we can. Totally as a cost-saving measure." . . .
The treasurer's official schedule and state travel vouchers for him and Lanning indicate they shared space in a studio apartment in downtown Chicago at least 50 times between 2011 and mid-2012. During that same time, they also shared hotel rooms at least a half-dozen times while traveling on state business, including overnights in Chicago, Bloomingdale and Danville, and billed the state, records show.
In a recent interview with the Tribune, Rutherford sought to draw a distinction about the practice, saying the room-sharing only occurred while he and Lanning were doing campaign work and paying with political funds — not working for state government. He disputed many of the public travel vouchers that indicated the two men shared hotel rooms on half a dozen official trips and billed the state for it . . .
Rutherford rejected the notion that his room-sharing practice could lead to accusations of favoritism or expose taxpayers to potential lawsuits from employees, reiterating that it is a campaign policy "and it's worked."
Asked who he shared a room with other than Lanning, Rutherford said, "Well, I haven't."
Pressed on whether the practice raised questions about his judgment, Rutherford quickly responded, "No."
"There's nothing wrong with being friends with employees," Rutherford said. "I consider myself friends with many in the office." . . .
When Rutherford won, Lanning took the job as executive assistant to the treasurer, an administrative role in which he routinely travels with Rutherford and handles phone calls and scheduling.
Lanning is "basically the point guy when we're on the road, in the Capitol office or when we're in the Chicago office," Rutherford told the newspaper.
In 2009, Lanning made $24,000 a year working for the state senator. When he became the treasurer's executive assistant in 2011, Lanning's salary increased to $40,000. Since then he has received two more bumps in pay. He now earns $60,000 annually — a 50 percent salary hike from when he started in the treasurer's office.
Asked why Lanning received the raises, Rutherford said they were for taking on additional duties, which Rutherford identified as preparing the treasurer's travel vouchers.
Other treasurer's employees have received raises as well, and several top policy advisers make $100,000 or more.
Rutherford said he and Lanning developed the routine of sharing a room during the 2010 campaign . . .
As treasurer, Rutherford has traveled to China, Israel and Korea on trips paid for by outside interest groups. Each time, he only brought one staffer along — Lanning.
Chase's story continues a practice of the Chicago Tribune to politically destroy statewide candidates over peccadillos in their private lives while ignoring similar issues with candidates the newspaper supports. To help elect Barack Obama to the U.S. Senate in 2004, the Chicago Tribune first opened up sealed divorce records of his principal Democratic opponent, Blair Hull, to air unproven, uncharged allegations of domestic violence made by his ex-wife in the midst of their divorce proceedings shortly before the primary, effectively destroying his campaign. After Obama won the nomination, the Tribune then opened up the sealed divorce records of his Republican opponent, Jack Ryan, to air unproven allegations by his ex-wife, Hollywood actress Jeri Ryan, that he enjoyed frequenting swingers clubs, a story that forced him out of the race under pressure by Republican leaders, effectively allowing Obama to be elected unchallenged in his first and only statewide race in Illinois.
By contrast, the Tribune and other mainstream media outlets ignored numerous accounts of Obama's closeted homosexual lifestyle before becoming president. Two openly gay members of the controversial church of Rev. Jeremiah Wright, including one who claimed to have a sexual relationship with Obama, choir director Donald Young, were the victims of unsolved murders in December, 2007 after Larry Sinclair began going public with claims that he had two sexual encounters in Chicago with Obama that involved the use of crack cocaine while Obama was a state senator. Sinclair claimed that he had been contacted by Young shortly before his murder. Sinclair was later extradited to face trumped up charges in the state of Delaware by Joe Biden's son, Attorney General Beau Biden, on the same day that he spoke about his past sex and drug use with Obama at the National Press Club. The Tribune and other mainstream media similarly ignored Obama's unusual relationship with an obscure suburban Chicago police officer, who traveled everywhere with him prior to his election as president, including trips to his apartment and a local gym, sometimes on multiple occasions on a single day, as well as investigative reporter Wayne Madsen's research that uncovered evidence that both Obama and Rahm Emanuel frequented Man's Country, a gay bathhouse in Chicago.
Similarly, the Tribune and other media have ignored the unlikely way that Emanuel, who had no background in investment banking, managed to earn close to $20 million during a brief two-year stint working at a Chicago investment banking firm despite having no background in finance or investment banking during a period after he left the Clinton White House but before being elected to Congress. Emanuel, a dual citizen with the nation of Israel who volunteered to serve in the Israeli army in 1991 during the first Gulf War, worked closely with Obama during Blagojevich's first election as governor and played a critical role in securing appointments to key state boards following his election for their political allies. It was that appointment process that led former U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald to launch his investigation known as "Operation Board Games," involving allegations that appointments were sold to political supporters and actions were taken by those boards to reward financial supporters, including those with close ties to Emanuel and Obama. This is a taste of the candidate with which Democrats will likely succeed in saddling Republicans in Illinois for their candidate for governor this fall.