Fired Rutherford Staffers Claim Retaliation | NBC Chicago
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Fired Rutherford Staffers Claim Retaliation

Three former staffers say they were targeted for participating in an investigation into accusations of sexual harassment and political coercion made against Rutherford

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    Illinois State Treasure Dan Rutherford.

    The state watchdog for the Illinois Treasurer has asked Dan Rutherford's office to review its timekeeping policies after an investigation found three top staff members falsified timecards, but the fired employees say they were targeted for cooperating in another investigation.

    Executive Inspector General David Wells' investigation, posted recently on the website of the state's Executive Ethics Commission, found that the three administrators, who have since been fired from Rutherford's office, had broken timekeeping policies and falsified records.

    Wells said in his six-page report that the investigation started after former employee Ashvin Lad, sent a cellphone picture of himself from Wrigley Field to several co-workers. The caption accompanying the photo said he was "playing hooky," the report says.

    Treasurer's office deputy chief of staff Lori Ann McCabe later verified that Lad had been signed in on the employee time system and said he was working during that time, although Lad in his response to the report said he was at the ballpark during lunch.

    The report found that Lad and colleagues Patrick Carlson and George Daglas had exchanged computer passwords and entered working times for one another if they were not in the office. Wells also found that Carlson and Daglas went to local gyms to exercise while on the clock.

    All three men disputed the allegations in written responses and asked that their names be redacted from the report.

    Carlson and Lad in their responses also suggested that they were targeted for participating in an investigation into accusations of sexual harassment and political coercion made against Rutherford by a former employee in a federal lawsuit.

    Rutherford fired the men in July after Wells completed the report, which was released publicly Sept. 18. Wells had recommended that action, as well as the review of time-keeping procedures.

    "The scenario perpetrated by this scheme could not have occurred if senior staff, managers and supervisors were exercising due diligence in this area," he said.

    Rutherford wrote in response to the report that the employees' behavior left him "appalled and disappointed."

    "It is unfortunate that despite our efforts, a few employees who were placed in positions of trust and leadership still collaborated and schemed to benefit themselves at the expense of their fellow staff members, the reputation of the Office of the State Treasurer and especially the taxpayers of Illinois," Rutherford said.

    The treasurer's office on Wednesday didn't immediately respond to questions about whether it had begun reviewing its timekeeping policies, as suggested by Wells, or questions about Carlson and Lad's suggestions.

    The report again sidetracks Rutherford's office in the final few months of his tenure, after a career that began when the Pontiac Republican joined the Illinois House of Representatives in 1993. One of four GOP contenders who had vied to face incumbent Democrat Pat Quinn in this November's election, his bid lost traction after the former employee filed the sexual harassment suit.

    Rutherford has repeatedly denied the claims.