Most parents would be delighted to learn their teenage son had scored a paid internship.
But — according to court documents — one wealthy, clouted Chicago family didn’t feel that way.
In fact, the Pritzker family was “very upset” the teen was paid for his internship by former Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford, a federal lawsuit filed late Tuesday alleges.
The allegation is part of the latest salvo from a former aide to Rutherford, Edmund Michalowski, who last year torpedoed Rutherford’s gubernatorial ambitions by filing a lawsuit that accused the former treasurer of sexual harassment.
A new version of that lawsuit now expands on another set of Michalowski’s allegations — that Rutherford required him to do political work on state time, including handling politically connected children, whom Rutherford allegedly hired as interns to further his own career.
Among those Rutherford hired “in order to curry political favor” in the summer of 2011 was the son of “a politically influential Chicago‐area family,” the lawsuit alleges.
Neither the boy nor the parent is identified in the lawsuit. But the Chicago Sun-Times reported in July 2014 that a 16-year-old member of the billionaire Pritzker family received an internship in the summer of 2011, a year after one of his direct relations donated $50,000 to Rutherford’s campaign fund.
Sources confirmed it is the Pritzker family that’s referenced in the lawsuit.
Rutherford allegedly demanded the boy be paid, but later in the summer, he confronted Michalowski and “stated that the intern’s father was extremely upset that the intern was being paid for his work in the office, given that the intern was from a wealthy family,” the lawsuit states.
According to the suit, Rutherford was so worried he had upset the Pritzker family that he told Michalowski “if the situation cost him anything politically then [Michalowski] should look for employment elsewhere, and that if it impacted Rutherford’s ability to raise funds then Rutherford would ruin [Michalowski’s] career.”
A spokeswoman for the Pritzker family declined to comment Wednesday. Rutherford’s spokeswoman, Natalie Bauer, said in a statement that Rutherford denies the allegations in the lawsuit.