This summer, the office of Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford sent a glossy summary of "successes" to a select 850 state residents -- a majority of whom happen to be major campaign donors to the Pontiac Republican.
Rutherford, who party insiders say is strongly mulling a bid for governor, says it is "merely a coincidence" that nearly two-thirds of the recipients of the slick mailer are also donors to his political campaign.
Rutherford sent out the 11-page full-color booklet titled "No More Debt" on June 1. "Paid for by the state of Illinois. 850 copies," it reads in small print on the back.
The mailing did not solicit donations, but highlighted what it portrayed as successes of the treasurer's first six months in office, citing newspaper editorials warning other constitutional officers to heed Rutherford's calls to freeze state spending and end borrowing.
"As the state treasurer, I am here to sound the alarm," a narrative reads, calling for responsible budgeting, spending only as much as the state brings in.
According to information obtained through the Freedom of Information Act and cross-checked against campaign disclosure data filed with the State Board of Elections, 566 of the original 850 recipients were Rutherford campaign donors, contributing a total of $1.6 million to the former lawmaker's war chest over the last 16 years.
They include Craig Duchossois, CEO of Elmhurst-based Duchossois Industries, who, since 1996, has given Rutherford's campaign over $32,500; former candidate for governor Ron Gidwitz, who has given Rutherford $16,500 since 1999; James Liautaud, the founder of Jimmy John's sandwich franchise, who has contributed $156,000 to Rutherford since 2005; and Goldman Sachs investment banker Muneer Satter, who has donated $75,000 over the past four years.
Few big-name Democrats seem to be on the recipients' list, but a number of past and current top-ranking Republican officials are.
They include former Republican Gov. James R. Thompson, 13th District Congresswoman Judy Biggert and Demetra Demonte, Republican Committeewoman for Illinois.
Many of the remaining names, while not direct Rutherford contributors, are long-standing Republican donors and party insiders.
Former Republican Congressman Tom Ewing, former state lawmakers Joan Krupa and Duane Noland, and current McHenry County Board Chairman Ken Koehler and Kane County Chairwoman Karen McConnaughay are on the list.
Rutherford declined to speak directly with the Daily Herald about the mailing or how he chose recipients, instead responding to questions through written statements.
"This list of business leaders has been compiled over more than 18 years of Dan's service in the legislature and it continues to be updated," spokesman Matt Butterfield said in an email. "Any percentage that leans Republican or happen to be donors to any government official is merely a coincidence."
The office said the publication, which is posted on the treasurer's website, has been distributed to civic, business and community leaders, as well as "state legislators and any of their constituents who request a copy," but it did not elaborate on how many or who those individuals were.
According to the treasurer's office, the mailing cost 21.4 cents to print per piece, and envelopes and postage cost $1.48 per piece for a total of $1,432.50.
In the four weeks following the mailing, Rutherford collected $9,106 in donations from mailer recipients.
Third quarter campaign finance reports are due at the end of the month.