Rutherford joins Rauner in club RICO

By DOUG IBENDAHL • June 12, 2014

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If State Treasurer Dan Rutherford wants to commiserate with someone over newly filed RICO allegations, his former gubernatorial primary opponent Bruce Rauner is just the man.

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Early today former Rutherford aide Edmund Michalowski filed an amended complaint in federal court against Rutherford and others, including Romney for President, Inc. The amended lawsuit now includes civil racketeering claims – as in the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or “RICO.”

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Our readers are already familiar with the federal RICO statute. Last month we reported that Rauner’s GTCR settled civil RICO claims back in 2006. The lawsuit there involved another alleged nursing home bust-out scheme. This one involved conduct in Ohio, but the scheme was eerily similar to the nursing home bust-out story currently being told in federal court in Florida and elsewhere.

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Rauner’s firm settled the civil racketeering suit shortly after the judge scheduled the case for trial. Substantial pre-trial hearings and briefing had all been completed, and the case was moving forward. GTCR didn’t want to go to trial and it’s easy to imagine why.

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The case against Rutherford by contrast is in the very initial stages. The federal judge dismissed the first complaint without prejudice and the plaintiff has now filed an amended suit. There has been no discovery and evidence has yet to be entered into the record. The amended complaint retains unsubstantiated claims such as Rutherford “grabbed at Plaintiff’s genital area” – and then adds the Romney campaign committee as a deep-pocket defendant.

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Some in the Illinois media will no doubt continue to milk the Rutherford story for whatever tawdry titillation it can provide.

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Meanwhile, investigating serious allegations that the Republican nominee has direct links to a racketeering scheme which put profit over the safety of our county’s most vulnerable elderly citizens is apparently too much work.

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Regardless of how the lawsuit against Dan Rutherford plays out, it’s interesting to note that two of the four Republican candidates for governor are now linked to alleged racketeering conduct.

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Only in Illinois.

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Doug Ibendahl is a Chicago Attorney and a former General Counsel of the Illinois Republican Party.

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