SPRINGFIELD — An internal report about the allegations against former Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford will remain hidden from taxpayers under a decision issued Tuesday.
Although Rutherford's replacement as treasurer — Democrat Mike Frerichs — had earlier said copies of the probe could eventually be made public, his office said Tuesday the documents would stay locked up while a federal lawsuit against Rutherford is underway.
Frerichs decision is the latest wrinkle in a story that rocked the 2014 race for the GOP gubernatorial nomination and led to Rutherford's fourth-place finish after having been viewed as a viable challenger to the man who eventually won, Republican Bruce Rauner.
With time running down on the March 2014 primary, allegations surfaced that the longtime state lawmaker from Chenoa and one-term treasurer had sexually harassed a former employee and asked that employee to perform campaign work on state time.
Rutherford commissioned an internal investigation of the claims and said he would make the probe public when it was complete.
His attorney later said the report must stay under wraps because the former worker, Ed Michalowski, filed a federal lawsuit claiming Rutherford subjected him to a "longstanding pattern of discrimination based upon his sex" from April 2011 to December 2013.
Tuesday's decision, said Frerichs' office, came at the request of Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, who is defending Rutherford in the lawsuit.
"(T)he office of the attorney general has instructed the office of the Illinois state treasurer to not release the investigative report because of the ongoing litigation," noted Allen Mayer, deputy general counsel for the treasurer's office.
The office did release a billing statement from the private investigator showing taxpayers were billed $18,100 for the probe.
Frerichs spokeswoman Paris Ervin said the treasurer remains committed to making the report public.
"Once the litigation is over, Treasurer Frerichs will work with the attorney general's office to quickly get the investigative report released," Ervin said in a prepared statement.
Rutherford left the treasurer's office on Jan. 12. He has not disclosed his future plans.
The attorney general's office has asked for U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow to dismiss the case. Attorneys for Michalowski say they believe the case should move forward.