SPRINGFIELD—February 10, 2014— Edmund Michalowski filed a federal
lawsuit today against Treasurer Dan Rutherford and Chief of Staff Kyle
Ham. While an independent investigation
is on-going, the Illinois State Treasurer’s Office conducted an initial review
of documents Michalowski claims support these allegations, as well as its own
records, and preliminarily found there was no merit.
The Allegations Are
To our knowledge, there are
no witnesses to three alleged incidents of harassment—one of which allegedly
took place at the treasurer’s home on April 2, 2011, and the other two at
events outside the office in August 2011 and August 2012. The alleged incidents in December 2013 were
only raised in the complaint filed today, and the treasurer’s office had not
been previously informed of any harassment in 2013. In any event, Treasurer Rutherford strongly
denies any inappropriate conduct, regardless of the date.
State records reviewed by
the treasurer’s office bear no resemblance to Michalowski’s allegations. For instance, Michalowski claims that he was
harassed at “an overnight retreat” at the Treasurer’s home in Chenoa on April
2, 2011. However, a travel voucher
submitted and signed by Michalowski for the date of April 2, 2011 shows he
traveled home from Pontiac (not Chenoa) at 2 in the afternoon. Most importantly, contrary to his claim that
he planned to stay the night and that he was harassed in the evening, the
voucher indicates Michalowski returned to his residence in Chicago by 4 in the
afternoon that day. An email written by
Michalowski to another co-worker confirms that he traveled to Pontiac and returned
home the same day.
Details such as a July 24,
2011 text from a staffer that the treasurer asked that Michalowski wear a “tank
top” are deliberately taken out of context.
Michalowski provided to the treasurer’s office what he claims to be the
entire string of texts, which shows that Michalowski was engaging in
light-hearted conversation with the staffer about appropriate dress.
Further, contrary to his
claims, Michalowski did not report any incidents of misconduct to his
supervisor or through the Equal Employment Opportunity process, nor did anyone
else report any type of misconduct on claims that are 2 and 3 years old. Chief of Staff Kyle Ham vehemently denies
that any report was made to him about this conduct.
No treasurer’s office
employee in this administration has been pressured or otherwise coerced into
performing political activity. Employees
such as Michalowski have volunteered to perform political activity on their own
time and using their own resources.
Michalowski has never suffered
any demotion or decrease in salary, which was substantial; his $99,000 annual
salary placed him among the six highest salaries at the treasurer’s office. He was never promised any promotion or
position. The text messages produced to
our office by Michalowski show continual civility, camaraderie, appreciation,
and support from the treasurer and other co-workers for Michalowski and from
Michalowski to the treasurer and other co-workers. This is true both pre- and post- the alleged
Participation in politics
is not a factor in advancement at the treasurer’s office. Of 55 non-union employees receiving salary
adjustments in the Rutherford administration, 71 percent were employed prior to
the Rutherford administration, with many being long-time employees.
The Allegations Are
The alleged incidents of harassment started in 2011 and 2012, well beyond the
statutes of limitations provided under state law and federal law for Equal
Employment Opportunity claims. Only
today does Michalowski raise incidents occurring in 2013 as a way to make these
allegations seem timely. Like the timing
of the claims, this is very convenient for Michalowski.
Likewise, the political
activity is alleged to have primarily occurred in 2011 and 2012. Michalowski, like every Illinois State
Treasurer’s Office employee, receives Ethics Training annually, and employees
are instructed to report any allegations of prohibited political activity or
other misconduct to the Office of Executive Inspector General. However, there is a one-year statute of
limitations for the Office of Executive Inspector General to open
investigations. These allegations were
never reported to the Executive Inspector General at the time.
The Timing of the Allegations Is Calculated.
These false allegations were only brought to light on the eve of a
political debate on January 23, 2014, and six weeks before a contested primary
election. Attorney Christine Svenson
accompanied these allegations with a demand of $300,000 to keep these damaging
allegations “under wraps.” Because of
the nature of the allegations, the treasurer has been unable to publicly
discuss them. The treasurer’s office has
taken great care not to reveal the identity of Michalowski.
Public records show that
Michalowski is in the midst of an on-going bankruptcy proceeding in which
Michalowski is delinquent in making payments as of May 2013, with a hearing
scheduled on the delinquency for January 23, 2014—the date his attorney first
contacted the Illinois State Treasurer’s Office. His home was foreclosed upon in April
2013. In October 2013, Michalowski filed
The treasurer’s office will
release a summary of the findings of its independent investigator, and will
turn over the entire investigative file to its Executive Inspector General at
the conclusion of the independent investigation. The treasurer’s office remains committed to
providing a workplace that is free of any misconduct.