MOLINE -- State Treasurer Dan Rutherford said he won't be forced out of the Republican gubernatorial primary by "politically motivated" allegations that he sexually harassed an employee.
The allegations were made by Edmund Michalowski, Mr. Rutherford's former director of community affairs and marketing, and have become the subject of a federal lawsuit.
"I am totally convinced that it's a political move to try and keep me from getting the nomination," Mr. Rutherford told the editorial board of The Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus during a conference call on Wednesday.
The allegations emerged five weeks before the March 18 primary, and Mr. Rutherford said they were timed to do him maximum damage.
He said he launched an investigation and planned to release the results but couldn't once the lawsuit was filed. "There's no way I'm backing out of this race," he added.
Mr. Rutherford is competing in the Republican gubernatorial primary with venture capitalist Bruce Rauner and state senators Kirk Dillard and Bill Brady. Gov. Pat Quinn, a Democrat, is running for re-election and is expected to face the winner of the GOP primary.
Mr. Rutherford said he believes he's best equipped to beat Gov. Quinn because he's the only one of the Republican candidates to have won a statewide election.
He said that as treasurer he has seen the "dark ugly side of the belly of the beast" when it comes to state finances and will use that knowledge to put the state budget on a firmer footing.
He said he did not support the pension reform bill that state officials estimate will save $145 billion over 30 years by cutting future benefits. Mr. Rutherford believes the legislation is unconstitutional and could be thrown out by the courts.
He's concerned about spending on Medicaid, the health care program for the poor, and, like his GOP rivals, said the state must aggressively move to throw ineligible participants off the rolls.
If he is elected governor, Mr. Rutherford said he would focus on small and medium sized businesses and act as "chief marketing officer" for the state.
Mr. Rutherford was born in Pontiac and has served in the Illinois House and Senate. He was elected state treasurer in 2010.
Today is Tuesday, Sept. 16, the 259th day of 2014. There are 106 days left in the year.
1864 — 150 years ago: A fine lumber mill is on the course of erection at Andalusia. A flouring mill at that location is doing a fine business. 1889 — 125 years ago: J.B. Lidders, past captain of Beardsley Camp, Sons of Veterans, returned from Paterson, N.Y., where he attended the National Sons of Veterans encampments. 1914 — 100 years ago: President Wilson announced that he had received from the imperial chancellor of Germany a noncommittal reply to his inquiry into a report that the emperor was willing to discuss terms of peace. 1939 — 75 years ago: Delegates at the Illinois Conference of the Methodist Church in Springfield voted to raise the minimum pay of ministers so that every pastor would get at least $1,000 annually. 1964 — 50 years ago: An audience of more than 2,600 persons jammed into the Davenport RKO Orpheum theater with a shoe horn feasted on a Miller-Diller evening that was a killer night. Phyllis Diller sent the audience with her offbeat humor. And send them she did! It was Miss Diller's third appearance in the Quad-Cities area. 1989 — 25 years ago: A few years ago, a vacant lot on 7th Avenue and 14th Street in Rock Island was a community nuisance. Weeds grew as high 18 inches. Today, the lot has a new face, thanks to Michael and Sheila Rind and other neighbors who helped them turn it into a park three weeks ago.