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updated: 2/6/2014 4:57 AM

Accusations against Rutherford stay private for now

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  • Bruce Rauner, left, shakes hands with Treasurer Dan Rutherford before their participation in a Republican primary candidate debate Tuesday in Naperville.

      Bruce Rauner, left, shakes hands with Treasurer Dan Rutherford before their participation in a Republican primary candidate debate Tuesday in Naperville.
    Daniel White | Staff Photographer


Two of Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford's Republican primary opponents for governor both used the word "bizarre" to describe a drama first brought to light by Rutherford himself that features an anonymous person making unspecified accusations against him.

Despite the absence of at least one main character and many answers, the storyline continues to build in a hotly contested governor's race where GOP voters are trying to pick their best hope for retaking the governor's mansion in November.

Without details, voters trying to decide the merits of the allegations will find it difficult to do so. Rutherford says the accuser sought money to stay quiet and says the fourth GOP contender, Winnetka businessman Bruce Rauner, is behind it all, which Rauner denies.

Another of the candidates, state Sen. Kirk Dillard of Hinsdale, said Wednesday that while anonymity can be important while an accuser's allegations are investigated, it makes this case "more bizarre." The treasurer's office employee's attorney has talked on the radio about some of the allegations while the accuser has gone unnamed.

"Normally we respect anonymity, but in this case the accuser is talking to media and apparently wants to be anonymous with a small 'a,'" Dillard said.

Attorney Christine Svenson said on WLS-AM Monday her client's accusations are rooted in allegations he was forced to do political work, a violation of his First Amendment rights. She also said more allegations and more people could be added to an eventual lawsuit, though no suit has been filed. Svenson hasn't returned requests for comment.

"Obviously, the whole thing is bizarre," said candidate for governor and state Sen. Bill Brady of Bloomington, adding that both Rutherford and the accuser have a right to a fair shake.

"The sooner this gets out, the fairer it is to everyone," Brady said.

As Rutherford has launched an internal investigation into the matter, he's refused to detail the charges. Neither Rutherford's government office nor his campaign will verify a purported resignation letter from the accuser that has surfaced online.

Rutherford was the one to bring the situation to light during a news conference Friday with just weeks to go before the March 18 primary. If not for that news conference, it's unclear when -- or if -- the allegations would have surfaced at all.

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