Wanna go to Cuba? Talk to our former treasurer

So what ever happened to the man whom many believed would be the next Illinois governor—until he ran into an office scandal and the Bruce Rauner juggernaut, that is?

Answer: He’s pitching trips to Cuba.

Yes, in an email, former Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford tells me that, now drawing a pension and with little political future ahead of him, he’s pursuing his longtime love of travel.

Specifically, after having visited all seven continents and building “a Rolodex of contacts around the world,” he’s put together a travel company called Global Relations.

At least for the moment, the group is focusing on just-opened Cuba, which is closed to individual tourists but open to some organized groups and those on educational, journalistic and other missions.

“My first trip to Cuba was in 1999, with Gov. (George) Ryan,” Rutherford wrote. “I have been back several times since. Just returned Saturday with a group.”

Apparently, business is brisk. Rutherford has several other Cuba trips scheduled later this year. For instance, an eight-day, seven-night trip to “the jewel of the Caribbean” in July is going for $2,999 per person, according to Rutherford’s website.

Rutherford, of course, was easily the best-known GOP candidate for governor two years ago, with a big war chest and a decent organization. But he effectively was knocked out of the race when leaked charges, later filed in court, alleged he had coerced staffers to do political work and sexually harassed a male subordinate.

Rutherford has proclaimed his innocence. A racketeering charge on the political work was tossed out earlier this year by a federal judge, but the sexual harassment matter still is being litigated.

In the email exchange, Rutherford described Global Relations as a “hobby” rather than a business. But he sure is pitching hard.

With President Barack Obama set to hit Cuba himself soon, “Things are moving fast. . . .The quaint island nation that has been elusive to us Americans for over half a century will soon change,” Rutherford wrote.

Rutherford is right about that. Maybe Gov. Rauner could buy a seat. It would seem to be the least he could do.

Greg Hinz, Crain’s Chicago Business

February 29, 2016

 

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