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Rutherford Accuser Defends Lawsuit Timing, Says There’s ‘No Grace Period’ For Misconduct

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Jay Levine Jay Levine
Jay Levine is the chief correspondent for CBS 2 Chicago. He joined...
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(CBS) – The man who has accused Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford of sexual harassment in a federal lawsuit is speaking out for the first time on-camera.

Ed Michalowski tells CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine why he chose to come forward with allegations against Rutherford, rocking the Republican race for governor.

Levine found Michalowski heading home Friday from his new job with the Cook County Recorder of Deeds. He was polite, but reluctant, to explain his allegations –- that, among other things, Rutherford made inappropriate overtures and pressured him to do political work on state time.

But when Levine asked about Rutherford’s accusation that the charges are a politically motivated attack, Michalowski opened up.

“I was at a breaking point, and myself and other male employees in the office had numerous discussions about Dan’s inappropriate activity, his sexual harassment, the political coercion, and I was at a breaking point,” Michalowski said.

“My reaction to the treasurer (about) the timing has everything to do with his actions and has nothing to do with the timing of the political race,” Michalowski said.

“I don’t think any elected official should have a grace period where they can act inappropriately because he’s running for office,” he added.

Some have questioned how Michalowski was able to leave one government job Friday and have another one the following Monday morning.

Recorder Karen Yarbrough, a Democrat, produced evidence that Michalowski first applied for a job last August; was interviewed in October; and offered the position in December.

What Rutherford implied was extortion –- a demand for $300,000 to keep quiet — Michalowski calls severance.

“Just a day before the press conference where he launched those ludicrous statements that I was doing this in concert with (Rutherford GOP rival) Bruce Rauner, we had emails from their counsel thanking us for being so forthright with the documents that we were supplying them,” Michalowski said.

He said he did not demand money.

Rutherford has denied the allegations.

An outside investigator has submitted his report on Michalowski’s allegations. It was paid for with tax dollars, and Rutherford had promised to release it.

But he’s now withholding it – not because it has damaging information, Rutherford says, but because it will be introduced as evidence in court.

Rutherford, a former state lawmaker, has said he’ll continue his campaign for governor. Besides Rauner, his opponents include state Sens. Kirk Dillard and Bill Brady. Whoever wins the GOP primary will square off against the Democratic candidate, expected to be incumbent Gov. Pat Quinn.

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