SPRINGFIELD — A Snapchat text from Wrigley Field during state worker hours and a pair of sexually harrassing text messages to female co-workers were among the new details to emerge Wednesday in the firings of three high-level staffers in state Treasurer Dan Rutherford’s office.
The Executive Ethics Commission Wednesday released a report by David Wells, executive inspector general for the treasurer’s office, into an alleged scheme to circumvent the time-keeping system in Rutherford’s office.
Wells identified Patrick Carlson, George Daglas and Ashvin Lad, all three senior members in Rutherford’s management team, and said all three violated the “trust and integrity” of Rutherford and state taxpayers by their conduct.
Carlson was the treasurer’s manager of logistics. Daglas was director of community affairs and marketing under Rutherford. And, Lad was director of Invest in Illinois in the treasurer’s office.
“All three positions are senior staff positions within the office of state treasurer, appointed by Treasurer Rutherford. These individuals are in leadership positions of a state agency wherein integrity and trust are key character traits. By their participation in this fraudulent time keeping scheme, whether it was ‘every day’ or ‘one time only,’ their actions violated the trust and integrity of Treasurer Rutherford, the office of state treasurer, and most importantly, the trust of the taxpayers of the state of Illinois,” Wells’ report concluded.
The scheme surfaced May 21 when Lad sent a Snapchat text message of himself from Wrigley Field to colleagues at approximately 2 p.m. with the caption: “I’m playing Hooky…SHHHHH,” Wells’ report said.
One of the employees who got it reported it to deputy chief of staff Lori Ann McCabe. That same tipster reported to McCabe that Lad, Patrick Carlson and George Daglas had been “circumventing” the office’s computerized time-keeping system that tracked the employees’ time at work “for several months.”
The employee said the Snapchat message went to Carlson, who reported it to her. The employee also told McCabe that Lad sent another Snapchat on May 22, 2014, with a photo of a couch with the caption that read “SHHHH – taking a nap,” Wells’ report said.
McCabe determined that Lad had recorded in the timekeeping system that he had been working on May 21 from 7:42 a.m. to 3:03 at the James R. Thompson Center. The employee also said that Daglas and Carlson went to athletic clubs during the day on state time to work out but never signed out of the timekeeping system, Wells’ report said.
The reporting employee told Wells’ investigators that the employees’ timekeeping abuses angered her because “high paid senior staff are getting away with it.”
In an interview with Wells’ investigators, Carlson said he and the other two had exchanged computer names and passwords thereby allowing each to access the other’s office computer, creating a fraudulent time keeping record which would not be detected as the individuals’ assigned computer was being utilized. Carlson couldn’t say how often he’d done this but said it had been “substantial,” according to the report.
Lad was interviewed on June 12 about his timesheet for May 21, the day he was at Wrigley Field. Lad told investigators he had two wakes to attend in the northern suburbs that day. Asked who approved that “flex work schedule,” Lad told investigators, “No one, I’m a responsible employee.” He also was asked about his snap-chat message from Wrigley Field. Lad explained his appearance there, saying he was at the park to “give his box seat tickets to a friend and claim the season ticket holder incentive gift. He stated he took the CTA to and from Wrigley Field. He signed himself out from the JRTC at 3:03 p.m.,” the Wells report said.
On June 17, 2014, Lad was interviewed again about allegedly threatening the underling informant who originally had been sent the Snapchat from Wrigley Field. Wells report said Lad denied threatening her but acknowledged he had been “talking loudly – due to a poor cell connection.”
Lad denied saying to her, “I know who I sent it to so it was Carlson, Daglas and you. We thought you were one of us – but now I know you are not, we know enough about you. If you’re going to play this game, stuff is going to happen to you,” Wells’ report said.
On June 23, 2014, a senior management employee contacted Wells’ office to report that she received a snap-chat image from Carlson of a woman with the caption, “It’s cool being a fat whore.” She also told Wells’ staff that the original informant had gotten a snap-chat message from Carlson containing a female image with the caption, “Bangable.” Carlson originally denied sending both messages but later said he did, without offering an explanation.
Wells said those messages violated treasurer’s office policies on workplace harassment and “at the very least, Carlson’s conduct in this regard was a major infraction of insubordination.”
Wells recommended the firings of all three men, which occurred in early July, and urged Rutherford to review the time-keeping procedures in his office.
“The scenario perpetrated by this scheme could not have occurred if senior staff, managers and supervisors were exercising due diligence in this area,” Wells’ report concluded.
Carlson, in an Aug. 25 rebuttal, questioned the validity of Wells’ investigation into him and his ex-colleagues.
“I have great concern over the legitimacy and manner in which this report was investigated as well as presented in writing. It is written in a manner that overstates any alleged violations committed and contains several factual inaccuracies that lead me to question everything contained in the report.”
Carlson also asked that his name be redacted from the report and that the report be withheld pending an appeal.
Lad also slammed Wells’ office.
“This report unfairly and inaccurately portrays me as an unethical individual who threatens friends and who sought to defraud the state of Illinois,” Lad said.
Lad objected to the “manner in which I was treated in the interview by the EIG,” false statements attributed to him, the interview not being recorded and reliance by investigators “only on the words of former co-workers”
Daglas repeated some of the same objections as the other two.
Rutherford expressed dismay at the conduct of the high-level staffers serving under him.
“Your investigation found that multiple high-level employees in positions of supervisory authority and trust conspired to avoid the systems in place and defraud the state of Illinois. To say the least, their behavior leaves mea palled and disappointed. Furthermore, the vulgar, rude and intimidating actions described in yoru report have no place in my administration or anywhere in any workplace for that matter,” Rutherford wrote Wells in a July 17 letter that came 15 days after the three were fired.