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updated: 1/22/2014 6:42 PM

Treasurer candidate criticizes incumbent on travel

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Associated Press

A Democratic candidate for Illinois treasurer is criticizing the Republican incumbent and governor candidate Dan Rutherford for spending on state travel allegedly to promote himself.

State Sen. Mike Frerichs of Champaign told reporters at a news conference Wednesday that Dan Rutherford of Chenoa -- one of four Republicans running for governor -- has used his office "to promote himself more than watching, keeping his eye on the ball" by traveling around the state to promote an unclaimed property program, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

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Frerichs, of Champaign, officially announced his candidacy through a series of stops around the state after hinting about it for months.

Rutherford's campaign spokesman Brian Sterling dismissed the criticism Wednesday, saying the treasurer is "very careful about mixing state and political business together."

"I know ... he's painstakingly documenting his travel and his expenses. Every elected official has been accused of doing (this) over the years," he said.

Rutherford's office notes that the I-Cash property program has been more successful since he took office.

The Associated Press reported in October that Rutherford's social media and state expense accounts showed more than 20 trips he had taken over an 18-month period that combined state and political business. Rutherford's trips around the state were anchored by events to bolster the I-Cash program, which connects Illinois residents with financial property they misplaced.

Rutherford's expense reports did not mention the political events but justify the expenses for "performing duties as state treasurer."

Rutherford said at the time that his office's I-Cash events are the important "anchor" his political schedule is based around while traveling. Rutherford has served as treasurer since 2011.

Frerichs has no opponent in the Democratic primary in March. Running on the Republican side are former House Minority Leader Tom Cross, of Oswego and DuPage County auditor Bob Grogan.

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